Jincy Willett is funny. Her latest novel, The Writing Class, is a murder mystery involving members of a creative writing class. The teacher, Amy Gallup, is a lonely widow and divorcee who had published early in her life, but now just teaches an evening writing class to make ends meet, and expends little bursts of creative energy writing funny lists on her secret home page.
Her classes are pretty much the same from semester to semester, where people from different backgrounds and with different levels of talent come together to try their hand at fiction writing. Amy assigns homework, and each week classmates share their work with each other and critique each other’s works.
Early in the present semester, Amy is awakened to a harassing phone call, a call she knows could only have come from one of her students. Nasty critiques start showing up in the pile students give to each other, and eventually the nastiness escalates until students begin turning up dead. No one knows who is “The Sniper,” as the classmates have dubbed the evil-doer; everyone is suspicious. Amy and the classmates, one of whom is the killer, examine the writings of the fellow students to try to figure out who the murderer is. Is it the lawyer, the doctor writing a medical thriller, the perpetual student, the blonde airhead, the school teacher, the football coach, the “sweet-faced” boy who wants to write for kids, or any of the other six classmates?
Willett herself is a creative writing teacher, and along with a satisfying murder mystery, the reader gets good, basic advice on writing. As a former member of several creative writing classes, I found her depiction of the class accurate and extremely funny. I picked this up thinking it would be a fun, quick read. It was, but it was more than just a typical murder mystery. It made me laugh out loud, ponder who the killer was, and also want to get out a yellow No. 2 pencil and start trying to be a writer again myself.
Check the WRL catalog for The Writing Class