Academic Curveball (Braxton Campus Mysteries #1) by James J. Cudney #bookreview #cozymystery #TuesdayBookBlog

When Kellan Ayrwick returns home for his father’s retirement from Braxton College, he finds a dead body in Diamond Hall’s stairwell.

Unfortunately, Kellan has a connection to the victim, and so do several members of his family. Could one of them be guilty of murder? Soon after, the college’s athletic program receives mysterious donations, a nasty blog denounces his father and someone attempts to change students’ grades.

Someone is playing games on campus, but none of the facts add up. With the help of his eccentric and trouble-making nana, Kellan tries to stay out of the sheriff’s way. And if that wasn’t enough already, his own past comes spiraling back to change his life forever.

In the debut novel in the Braxton Campus Mysteries Series, you’ll discover a cozy, secluded Pennsylvania village full of quirky, sarcastic and nosy residents.

I have to be honest – I haven’t read many cozy mysteries, but a small town college setting, the adorable cover, and great reviews drew me to this book.

I immediately liked Kellan. He’s a fairly recent widower with an adorable young daughter who’s trying to do the single dad thing, while also keeping the peace with his in-laws. When he travels to his hometown for his father’s retirement party, it’s clear there’s also friction in his own family. The reader doesn’t have to wait long for the action to begin. A body is discovered at the party and what looks to be an accident is soon revealed to be a murder. In several mysteries I’ve read, it’s pretty obvious who the murderer is early in the story, but that’s not the case in this novel. Several characters have a motive (even some within Kellan’s family), and I was kept guessing until almost the end.

While investigating on his own (and finding himself in some interesting situations), Kellan reconnects with some old friends and a girlfriend. Learning his backstory gave me more insight to his character, and I liked him even more. He also ponders making some life changes in the best interests of his family. Speaking of his family, shout-out to Nana D, who gave me several laugh out loud moments. She’s a feisty, intelligent lady who speaks her mind – and also makes repeated attempts to fix up her grandson with questionable choices in women.

I’m so glad I picked up this cozy mystery – the author has a new fan of the series. I have to comment on that cliffhanger at the end – it was a doozy and completely out of left field. And I absolutely need to know what happens next!

43 thoughts on “Academic Curveball (Braxton Campus Mysteries #1) by James J. Cudney #bookreview #cozymystery #TuesdayBookBlog

    1. So many cozies have such adorable covers and clever titles – I love looking at them, lol. I enjoyed trying to figure out the murderer in this book – so many had a motive that it kept me guessing. Thanks, Priscilla!

      Liked by 1 person

  1. The first book I published was a cozy, so I have a soft spot in my heart for them. This review has me intrigued. I always hear such wonderful things about his work and I’ve downloaded a few of his books. (My TBR list is an embarrassment.) I need to bump him up on my list. Great review, Teri.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks, Staci! A friend in book club reads a lot of cozies (a Scottish MC who knits?), so when I started seeing Jay’s series everywhere, I decided it was time to read one. I always love a college setting. And you don’t need to tell me about embarrassing TBRs.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. You know me. I’m in favor of anything set in Pennsylvania. I’m also part Scottish (though I don’t embrace that part of my heritage nearly as much as I should) and my alma mater was all about Scotland, so there’s another connection. I really want to read this one. I downloaded it.

        Liked by 2 people

  2. Thanks for the review, Teri! I bought this book a while ago, and I also recommended it to my father. He read it and really enjoyed it. He’s retired and I’m not, so it’s still waiting on my Kindle. 😦 I obviously need to move it up in my queue.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I’ve read three of Jay’s Braxton Campus mysteries and loved them all. The collection of characters is wonderful. I really need to go back and start at the beginning since the ones I read where out of sequence. And I thoroughly agree with you about Nana D.–she’s a treasure, LOL!

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Great review Teri!! Jay’s books are the only cozy mysteries that I’ve liked but I haven’t really read a whole lot from the genre. It doesn’t really interest me all that much but I will read everything that Jay writes.

    Liked by 2 people

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