Murder Mezzo Forte by Donn Taylor

Can the reclusive history professor and headstrong professor of religion prove themselves innocent of an illicit love triangle and a murder? Find out in Murder Mezzo Forte, the new mystery from Donn Taylor. Their desperate attempt to prove their innocence plunges them into a tangle of unsavory corporate relationships among college trustees. And it puts their lives in danger from a mysterious criminal organization that seems to have tentacles everywhere. Will this ill-matched pair’s stumbling efforts succeed against the entrenched forces of the police, the college’s incompetent administration, and that powerful but unseen criminal organization? If not, they may end up unemployed, in prison, or suffering a fate much worse.


{More about Murder Mezzo Forte}

Murder Mezzo Forte (Lamplighter Mysteries, June 2016)

He is a reclusive history professor with musical hallucinations. . . .

She a headstrong professor of religion, a converted Wiccan. Earlier, they solved a campus murder, but now police say they formed two-thirds of an illicit love triangle with a newly-murdered female colleague and they’re probably guilty of her murder. A leak of the alleged scandal to the college administration threatens their jobs.

Their desperate attempt to prove themselves innocent of the triangle and the murder plunges them into a tangle of unsavory corporate relationships among college trustees. And it puts their lives in danger from a mysterious criminal organization that seems to have tentacles everywhere.

Can this ill-matched pair’s stumbling efforts succeed against the entrenched forces of the police, the college’s incompetent administration, and that powerful but unseen criminal organization? If not, they may end up unemployed, in prison, or suffering a fate much worse.

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Donn Taylor

{More About Donn Taylor}

With a PhD in English literature (Renaissance), Donn Taylor taught literature for 18 years at two liberal arts colleges. Now retired, he has published suspense novels, mysteries, and poetry. His historical novel “Lightning on a Quiet Night” was a finalist for the 2015 Selah Awards. He is a frequent speaker at writers’ conferences. In a prior incarnation, he led an Infantry rifle platoon in the Korean War, served with Army aviation in Vietnam, and worked with air reconnaissance in Europe and Asia. He now lives in the woods near Houston, TX, where he writes fiction, poetry, and essays on current topics.

Find out more about Donn at



    I’m a sucker for a good romantic murder mystery and Donn Taylor gave me just that in Murder Mezzo Forte. The writing style is smooth and easy to follow, but not dull at all. It is entertaining and engaging. The characters are fleshed out and well defined. I liked the personality dynamics between the characters and the sarcastic humor.

    Written by Through the Open Window on July 25, 2016


    This is the second book in this series. You don’t need to read the first book to read this book but they do reference the first book quite a bit. This book has to professors at a college trying not to investigate a murder of another professor. A good mystery that had me guessing through the whole book.

    Written by A Room Without Books Is Empty on July 22, 2016
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    I love to find new authors and was excited to read Murder Mezzo Forte by Donn Taylor. I was not sure what to expect but really enjoyed this book. I liked that it had mystery and romance in it. The story takes place on a college campus and made for a very interesting plot. Even though I hadn’t read the book before this one I didn’t feel that I was missing anything since he did a good job of explaining everything. The book kept me interested right until the end! I can’t wait to read more from Donn Taylor.

    Written by Kaisy Daisy’s Corner on July 18, 2016


    Preston and Mara have a tendency to get in trouble and have to rely on their smarts and intuition to get themselves out of it. Preston is infused with dry humor and slightly caustic wit. Mara reminded me of one of the older women on the Father Brown show. I’ve always had an appreciation for English humor and this book delivered on that front. The mystery wasn’t easy to guess at and I liked the twists the author incorporated in the novel.

    The supporting characters added a lot to the intrigue and possibilities of the mystery. It felt like one mystery spiraled into another. The book was difficult to put down and I liked how the author handled the ending. My mom and sister also enjoyed the novel; it was quite a fun read! Overall, this book is recommended to adult mystery readers.

    Written by Live To Read ~Krystal on July 17, 2016


    They have a big problem because they have no idea who to trust. Will they solve this or will they be found guilty of something they did not do? I give this book a 4/5.

    Written by deal sharing aunt on July 16, 2016
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    Donn Taylor is a new author to me. I have read many mysteries, and I almost didn’t request this one when I saw the part about her being a former Wiccan. I really don’t like when references are made to anything like that. But I went ahead and requested it since I do love a good mystery.

    Written by Giveaway Lady on July 15, 2016
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    Murder, scandal, campus politics… Murder Mezzo Forte by Donn Taylor has all the makings of an excellent mystery as the Preston-Mara duo determines to prove their innocence. This book kept me turning page after page with delightful twists and humorous wit, and I highly recommend it to fans of mystery – you won’t be disappointed.

    Written by Book by Book on July 14, 2016
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    I found that this book started a little slow for me, but I am so glad that I pressed through it, as it turned out to be a truly great read! I found myself making time throughout my day to sneak in reading breaks. This book opens to a murder on a University campus, where Professor Preston Barclay and Professor Mara Thorn (a former Wiccan) walk into the office of Mitra Fortier and find her dead. Having been the two that solved the last campus murder, this puts them in a bit of a situation. While trying to remain inconspicuous, but also wondering what happened to their fellow professor, Preston and Mara resurrect their mystery solving skills and dig to the bottom of this mystery. However, the path they have chosen proves to be littered with mobsters, obstacles and close encounters with death.

    Written by Momma of 2 Review on July 14, 2016


    Taylor brings back old characters and introduces new in his college community based novel. He does a good job of covering back stories from the previous book, so this one can easily be read as a standalone. It has all the classic elements of a cozy mystery — quirky characters, humor, and intrepid amateur sleuths. But Taylor adds a bit extra as he explores the roles of reality and fantasy in our lives. Many of the characters indulge in the fantastical, making up scenarios that just don’t fit the facts. As Press gets further into his investigation, he recognizes his own lapses as well. Both Press and Mara struggle with faith issues as they deny their growing attraction. In the end, the two make a good team, a fact I hope is explored in future books.

    Written by By The Book on July 14, 2016
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    This book was a delicious mixture of mystery, intrigue and romance. This book is written in an engaging, well paced manner that makes it a real page turner and keeps one guessing until the very end. i love how the author was able to keep one guessing until the very end, it certain kept me on my toes. The characters are fascinating and solid, very enjoyable to read their witty dialogue. Having read the previous book in the series I was very eager to read this one!
    I received a copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion.

    Written by Perfect Beginnings on July 14, 2016


    Rounding out this story is the various guilty like other professors, questionable trustees of the university, and even the police themselves cannot be truly trusted. Preston and Mara both have some ups and downs in this story as their careers are in jeopardy, their lives are in danger, and neither will bring up that kiss.

    Once again I was transported to this university and their ridiculous mindset and rules, I enjoyed and chuckled at Preston’s dry wit, and was amused with his and Mara’s back and forth banter. I look forward to more in the Preston Barclay Mystery series; I just hope my two favorite professors get some time to relax.

    Written by Pause for Tales on July 14, 2016
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    I Loved that author Donn Taylor pretty much kept me guessing til the end! Not all authors can do that so this was awesome!! Even though this is a 2nd book in the series you can read it as a stand alone however, there are quite a few references to the 1st book so if that would bother you then by all means start at the very first book.

    Written by Heart of a Bookworm on July 13, 2016
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    Murder Mezzo Forte has a pretty great pace with not many pages lagging in action, or feeling like fillers. I enjoy Taylor’s writing style, and I’m interested in checking out his other books (which the covers suggest to have a military theme) like The Lazarus File or Deadly Additive. I think all of Donn Taylor’s works would be great gifts for the special guys in your life too!

    Written by Mama Bear Outpost on July 13, 2016


    Preston and Mara are at it again in this murder mystery that also has a bit of light romance and some humor that definitely brings a smile to your face. This is a good read and is the second book in the series which I would highly recommend. Preston has auditory hallucinations (musical) and though it could become an interference in the story this one didn’t. He is witty and fun. Love these characters.

    Written by Deco My Heart on July 13, 2016
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    This was a fun book to read and if you enjoy a good mystery, you’ll enjoy this book. I highly recommend it!

    Written by Julie – More Of Him on July 12, 2016
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    Though the references did not hamper the story of this one but on more than a few occasion where the author used references to the 1st book of the series it felt like I was missing something and hence I really wished I had read that before reading Murder Mezzo Forte.

    Written by Rishika’s Mommy’s Blog on July 12, 2016
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    The story was an o.k. story, not great, not so bad it made me want to quit the book. Just o.k. Which is disappointing for an avid reader. I wanted thrilled, I wanted to keep guessing who dunnit. I wanted to like the characters. I just didn’t relate to this story, the names were confusing, too many names too close to the same. So what was good about this book? The quirkiness was amusing, and entertaining. The setting was good. The writing is good. It just didn’t come together for me. 3.5 stars from this reviewer.

    Written by Cindy’s Book Reviews on July 12, 2016


    [Murder Mezzo Forte] well-written, a solid plot, enjoyable characters. It’s worth a read. Male readers will enjoy it probably a tad more than female, but then that’s stereotyping, which I abhor, so let me rephrase. Readers who enjoy a good murder/suspense plot with light romance that is definitely not the focus, will enjoy this novel. Readers looking for that 50/50 split of suspense and romance will not find that in this novel. It’s worth the read, the buy, and inevitably deserves a solid cup of black coffee to go along with it!

    Written by Jaime Jo on July 12, 2016


    I can tell you now that the author nailed the personalities found within an academic environment to a TEE!!! Their behavior at a social event – spot on!! I work in a liberal arts academic unit myself, and I just shook my head and laughed at some of the bureaucracy he describes! Anyway, this IS a well-written tale, but the main character sort of got on my nerves! There is a lot of loss before the mystery is solved, so if you like a good murder mystery, you will love this! I just had a hard time getting beyond my own opinion! So forgive me for that and enjoy the novel! It is a great tale!

    Written by Window To My World on July 12, 2016
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    The ending was left at a place that leaves me to think the author might be bringing out another novel with the main characters of Preston and Mara. I hope so as I enjoyed watching a possible romance and future with these two characters blossom the further the plot developed. This is a good story that kept me guessing; there were just too many musical pieces referenced for me.

    Written by Seeking with all yur heart on July 11, 2016
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    Let me first say that I loved this book! On many grounds. For many reasons. The writing is excellent, as is the language utilized throughout. (No profanity)

    Written by Luxury Reading on July 11, 2016


    I had a hard time relating to the main character. He’s reclusive with this weird internal music thing going on that detracts from the actual story. He’s a widower, and comes off as what my dad would call, “half a bubble off.” (It’s a carpentry term for something that is not level or square when it should be.)

    Written by Greatly Blessed on July 10, 2016


    [Donn Taylor] writes with a high level of intelligent sarcasm, great wit, and skill that one rarely encounters. His talent at wordsmithing is excellent. With a PhD in Literature, University teaching experience, and utilizing his varied life experiences, he has penned a delightful read.

    Written by Chat With Vera on July 10, 2016
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    Murder Mezzo Forte by Donn Taylor is the second in the Preston Barclay Mystery series. The first page snagged my attention and drew me in immediately. The book kept up a quick pace and I enjoyed it until about 2/3 of the way through. Then I started getting bored. Preston’s puns got old and some of the story and words used seemed dated. The characters of Cindy and Cynthia confused me a couple times and so did Mitra and Mara (until one of them was the victim of a crime). In all I enjoyed most of the book but towards the end was just glancing at the pages until it was over. At this moment I couldn’t tell you who did the crime.

    Written by Clicking Her Heels on July 10, 2016
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    I thoroughly enjoyed this second adventure of Press and Mara–the unwilling crime solving duo at Overton University. I also enjoyed the developing relationship between the two colleagues and am interested in knowing what the response was to the situation at the end of the book. (Guess we’ll have to wait and see…)

    Written by Misadventures of the Dynamic Uno on July 9, 2016
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    I remember enjoying the first book in this series when I read it ages ago, so I was thrilled to review this one! The characters are witty and interesting, and I loved the discussions on faith. Two thumbs up!

    Written by Inklings and Notions on July 9, 2016
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    I truly find Murder Mezzo Forte funny. It’s not comical, but more on the witty and “good grief!” type of humor. It’s satirical at times, and down-right dry others, but it works. It works for both Preston and Mara’s personalities. And that is what connects with me with this book.

    Written by Just Commonly on July 9, 2016


    While this is a well-written mystery with interesting characters, certain elements of the story kept it from being a real favorite for me. The constant “musical hallucinations” experienced by the main character were distracting from the flow of the story; that could well be nothing more than personal preference and may provide just the right twist for others. Also, I had trouble really “connecting” with the characters to the depth that makes a story really draw me in.

    Written by Southern Gal Loves to Read on July 9, 2016
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    This is such a fun read, as the characters are so sweet and so eccentric, and the mystery kept me turning the pages. I really enjoyed Donn’s writing and his descriptions, several times I found myself laughing out loud; this is a treat for all mystery fans

    Written by Moments on July 8, 2016
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    Colorful characters, ironic humor, and a cleverly written story are the strengths of Murder Mezzo Forte. If you love British humor and/or cozy mysteries like I do, then you will find much to enjoy about Preston Barclay and this latest novel by Donn Taylor. Faith is at the core of the characters’ lives but never overpowers the story, and the romance is sweet and well-paced. A very entertaining mystery, and a new-to-me author whose backlist I need to stalk ASAP!

    Written by Reading Is My SuperPower on July 8, 2016
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    If you enjoy this kind of light-hearted trivia [or is it a clue of some sort?] mixed with mystery and suspense, try Murder Mezzo Forte. If you don’t like it, try the novel anyway and give Taylor a chance to change your mind.

    Written by The Minister’s Wife on July 7, 2016


    What an unlikely partnership. A professor with musical hallucinations and a former Wiccan would appear to have very little in common.

    Well, there is that murder that they worked together to solve, and they are both employed by the same college. But other than that . . .

    I don’t know how many murders a small campus can handle, but I don’t want them to stop. I like this unlikely partnership.

    Written by sunny island breezes on July 7, 2016
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    Mr. Taylor has given us a thriller that will have us reading and flipping pages as fast as we can.

    Written by Vic’s Media Room on July 7, 2016
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    We are back with Professor Preston Barclay and his accomplice Mara Thorn, and they are back in the wrong place at the right time, or something like that, as they do find bodies, and they are not alive.

    This time the go to meet another member of the faculty at Overton College, make that University, and discover Professor Mitra Fortier’s body. Now what, and as you probably know these two know to get as far as they can from the deceased and any hint that they are involved.

    Written by Maureen’s Musings on July 7, 2016
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    The book doesn’t take long to launch into the murder and mystery, and pulled me into the story very quickly. I found myself liking the main characters a lot, and love the writing style of Donn Taylor. I found myself chuckling or laughing out loud several times at his descriptions of people and the antics of his main character. The plot was well done, and was difficult enough that I wasn’t sure what was going on, yet easy enough to keep up with.

    Written by Thoughts of a Sojourner on July 6, 2016
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    Unfamiliar with Taylor’s books, I was delighted to find Murder Mezzo Forte to be quite entertaining with abundant humorous and witty remarks that helped to lighten the much darker subjects of murder and danger. More than once I found myself chuckling at one of Preston’s off-the-wall remarks right in the middle of a suspenseful scene. What fun!

    Written by Daysong Reflections on July 5, 2016
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    Murder Mezzo Forte by Donn Taylor wasn’t my favorite. I had a hard time getting into the story and staying interested in this book. I don’t usually have problems reading mystery books because they are my favorite type of book to read, but I struggled with this book.

    Written by The World As I See It on July 4, 2016
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    I have to very honest I like to never got through this book. It was a struggle to read. Not sure what was going on.

    Written by The Mary Book Reader on July 3, 2016
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    I really liked the word play in this novel. The allusion to literary works, the (sometimes awful) puns, and the snappy dialog are the crowning features of this mystery. There is good character development and a surprise villain at the end. The main character had music running through his head and I found mentions of it irritating. Other than that a good mystery for readers who appreciate clever writing.

    Written by Book Reviews From an Avid Reader on July 2, 2016
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    I love Donn Taylor’s style of writing. I really felt like I was there with Preston through his process. I found the music theme throughout fantastic and learned more about music. Preston’s music hallucinations are so interesting and added so much more to the story. I cannot say enough good about this book!

    Written by For The Love of Books on July 2, 2016
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    Murder Mezzo Forte by author Donn Taylor is about 2 people who are trying to keep their job and stay away from being arrested for murder. Mara Thorn who is a religion professor and Preston Barclay is a history professor, who is not at all outgoing, are both now being looked at by the police as being guilty of murder of another worker. Someone has made the sneaky attack behind the scenes. But, how are they going to make sure that everyone knows they are really innocent. It even looks like they have put their safety on the line. If everyone is trying to show that they are guilty will they be able to show they are not. These are both great characters that you will grow to like.

    Written by 3 Partners in Shopping, Nana, Mommy, & Sissy, Too! on June 30, 2016


    Murder Mezzo Forte is a great mystery story full of wit and character. The personality the author has given the characters really shows through. The writing is witty and fun which makes the story engaging and gives the story line body and makes it vivid and strong.

    Written by A Simple Life, really?! on June 30, 2016
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    This was a very intriguing novel because of all the interactions among the characters and their secrets. Prof. Barclay has a tendency to hear music in his head and it’s very disconcerting. I was a little irritated that every time he mentioned the melody he heard, I found myself trying to place it or sing it myself. This really took away the continuity of the story. I know that this was meant to be a quirk of Preston’s, but it was mentioned too many times. But I really liked the story characters.

    Written by I’m Hooked on Books – on June 30, 2016
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