Faculty Center for Excellence in Teaching

A Bit of Whimsey: Mysteries and Academia

Who did it? Where was it done? These titles will give you a look at murder, mystery, and mayhem through the eyes of professors, administrators, staff, and students. Many, but not all titles, are set on college or university campuses. Whenever we know, we provide the academic field that is spotlighted in the mystery. Read them for fun, for the puzzle, to learn a little about another field or maybe get a new view of life in academia (one way to beat the burnout blahs). If you're going on a trip, find one set in that place and read it before you go. Feeling nostalgic for your old school or grad student days? Maybe there's a mystery here that can take you back.

Have students critique the presentation of your field in a mystery or analyze an excerpt. Give the students part of the mystery and see if they can apply their knowledge of your field to spot the solution. We make no assertions about the quality of these mysteries-that's your call-but if you find one that captures your field, maybe it can give advisees a sense of what it is like to be fully qualified and working in the area.

Disclaimer: For those who couldn't figure it out on your own, the presentation of this list in no way condones acts of violence and we would encourage the use of these to illustrate the problems with "violence as a solution to problems".

Additional sources of information:

  • Ian Carter, "Ancient cultures of conceit: British university fiction in post war years" Routledge. ISBN 041504827
  • Entire Winter 1996-7 issue devoted to Academic Mysteries. Mystery Reader's Journal, 12(4) Contributing authors include: N. Decure, R. Henrich,K. Klein, J. Kramer, J. Lang, P. McGuire, P. Kenney, B.J. Rahn, P. Scowcroft, C. Aird, R. Barnard, P. Carlson, A. Clarke, S. Holtzer, J. Langton, J. Mann, J. Neel, K. Page, G. Roberts, B. Rowlands, E. Skom, G. Townsend, M. Yorke.

Several items to note before you begin.

  1. American titles of publications were used in preference.
  2. If the author used an academician as the main character in a series then only the first title of the series is given. The word (series) appears after the author's name.
  3. Information is provided in the following order: author, title, publisher, date, main character, field of study, college or university, and location of the university (genuine or fictional).
  4. If you are looking for a particular mystery, field, school, etc. on this list the fastest way to locate it is to use your browser's search or find feature.
  5. Book titles in bold are ones available for checkout by WKU faculty/GTA's at the FACET. We currently only have a few donated books. Donations are accepted.
  6. We need your help. If you can fill in any of the blanks or provide titles please click here. We'd also like to provide a bibliography of non-mystery fiction set in academia. Suggestions are appreciated. Enjoy! 

Index by Authors







The Faculty Center for Excellence in Teaching
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