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MC's Urban continues mystery series

Barry McNamara
02/12/2010
The fourth book in William Urban’s Briarpatch College series is titled “The Dean Returns From the Dead.” It’s a good thing that a character is coming back, because the Monmouth College author was in danger of running out of characters.

The latest mystery novel by Urban, who is the college’s Lee L. Morgan Professor of History & International Studies, was recently released. The 332-page paperback was published by iUniverse.com and is available for $19.95 through the Monmouth College Bookstore and Amazon.com.

Previous books in the series include “The Dean Is Dead,” “The Dean Is Still Dead” and “The Dean Is Dead Again.”

“I have a total of seven plots,” said Urban of the mystery series. “The next one is titled ‘Is the Dean Dead Yet?’ The registrar is going to be in trouble.”

Of the rest of the series, Urban added, “It all comes together in the end.”

He explained that the concept for the murder series was first written down in 1972, and that the series’ second book started as a play in 2000. The process of turning it into a murder mystery began in 2003.

“These books have been very enjoyable to write,” Urban said. “I’ve had graduates from 50 years ago recognize individuals and situations, and readers from other colleges say the same thing.”

In the fall semester of 1995 at Briarpatch, Professor Donahue and Chief Biggs investigated the murder of Dean Wooda. The surprising result became stranger as new bodies and new suspicions appeared each semester. By 1997, even those who had seen the dean’s corpse off for cremation were wondering when his ghost would cease to haunt the drafty halls of the college’s oversized administration building.

“Everything that happens only once or even rarely elsewhere happens all the time at Briarpatch,” says a synopsis of the book. “If you’ve ever attended a small college, you know Briarpatch; if you haven’t, you should have, for those who do not become part of a murder investigation, a small college is a great place to get an education, or to teach, or even to be a dean.”