My second Book-On-The-Beach this summer was Matriculated Death by Maryanne Wells and Naomi O’Connors.
You’d expect to see vampires and zombies at a law school, right? Ghosts too? I mean, all that student ambition fueled by excessive caffeine and jumped into overdrive by sleep deprivation is bound to create a breeding ground for the paranormal. It’s true. Maryanne and her friends have more to contend with than impossible research assignments and finals. The second floor of the library his haunted at this Texas law school, and Dean is not what he seems. Luckily for the students, neither is Maryanne.
This first book of this series is actually two stories. The first, told in alternating first person between Maryanne and her friend Naomi, draws the reader in with an intriguing mystery, then moves into some great fantasy action. I wasn’t sure at first about the alternating first person chapters, although it was always clear whose version of the tale was being told. It felt easy and intimate though, as if two friends were eagerly telling me their tale in harmony. Maryanne and Naomi both work in the school’s library, and are pestered by students to investigate noises from the second floor, from the seldom-visited Pacific Reporter room. There are scratching noises coming from a bookshelf, lights flickering, and a ghostly figure visible through the window. Why is the library haunted? What is the significance of a partial list of names, all previous students, found in the room? And why is the Dean so darned mean? Our heroines join up with three friends, and definitely bite off a good deal more than they can chew.
The second story puts the vampires on the back burner to deal with a horrendous zombie outbreak. What’s a second year to do? Maryanne tells this tale solo, but her crew is back, helping solve the mystery of the undead students, all while feverishly writing article reviews, researching state statutes, and performing smack downs on the odious Gretta.
Matriculated Death is clever and fun. Maryanne is a brainy, West Texas Buffy, who compulsively thinks up anagrams when stressed and approaches mysteries with the style of a determined future-lawyer. Her Undead Bar Association gang reminds me of the Scooby Doo crew, sans dog and garishly painted van. Each story hooked me into the mystery, and I eagerly read on to find out what was going on. I’ll definitely read the next book in the series. Will we ever get details of Maryanne’s summer internship at the vampire firm? Or Naomi’s hinted-at adventures in New Orleans. What happens when they graduate, leaving all future students to a possible gory fate? Not just for adults, I think this book would be great for older teens. Four stars.