Adam and Evil by Gillian Roberts

Adam and Evil by Gillian Roberts
An Amanda Pepper Mystery
Publisher: Untreed Reads
Genre: Suspense/Mystery
Length: Short Story (125 pages)
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Cyclamen

When a high school senior shows signs of mental illness, Amanda attempts to get him help, but she’s rebuffed by his parents. When the same boy then becomes the prime suspect in a murder at the Philadelphia Main Library, and runs away, Amanda, who knows he’s confused and in need of help—whether or not he committed the crime—has no choice but to run after him. And to run into the possibility of becoming the next victim herself.

Have you ever had a time when no matter how hard you tried to do the right thing, life just kept getting more and more tangled as everything went wrong? Would it be better not to do anything? That’s a question that Amanda Pepper keeps asking herself as she finds herself in one disaster after another, both at work and at home.

Gillian Roberts has written a wonderfully exciting mystery novel with a very engaging detective. Amanda Pepper is a high school teacher with an unsupportive, obstructive principal. She teaches at Philly Prep, a school designed to “appeal to those (sufficiently affluent) youngsters who have a difficult time in larger, more standardized schools. Our mandate is to ignite a spark in the insufficiently fueled.” Amanda obviously cares about her students, taking time to encourage them, helping them find new ways to express themselves, and finally, trying to get medical help for a senior who starts behaving oddly. But her efforts seem only to backfire, getting her fired, threatened with law suits, and angering her policeman partner. With both a strong sense of justice and a highly developed sense of curiosity, she has a talent for finding mysteries. She is a fully developed character with both strengths and weaknesses, and most importantly, she is a joy to be around.

The supporting characters are also very true-to-life. I love her sister Beth, as well as her two eager-beaver tenth grade students who track down their own scandal for a newspaper expose. The villains in the book are well-defined and even likeable at times. This book is a real page-turner, as Amanda moves more deeply into trouble. The mystery itself is only solved at the very end in an exciting chase with an unexpected outcome. Roberts plays fairly with her readers, but she also has enough twists and turns in the plot that I didn’t get it worked out until the conclusion.

This is the ninth Amanda Pepper mystery, and I have discovered a new detective. I plan to read the other eight and I hope that Roberts writes many more of these wonderful mysteries. I highly recommend Adam and Evil to any fans of the cozy mystery.


  1. Astilbe says:

    Do you think this is a series that could be read out of order?

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