Mysteries

About Axel Crochet

Axel Crochet just wants to pursue his scholarly career, writing about Claude Debussy and hoping to get tenure.  But he keeps getting drawn into situations that turn into investigations and, well, what’s a musicologist going to do?

The title of the first set of Quarter Note Tales emerged from the name of its protagonist.  In British notation, a quarter note is a crochet, and in French, a croche.  Claude Debussy, the subject of Axel’s scholarly work, wrote music criticism under the nom de plume of Monsieur Croche, anti-dilettante.  The surname Axel comes from a play, Axel, by the composer’s friend Villiers de l’Isle Adam, from which Debussy hoped to produce a theatre-piece. 

While I recognize a certain kinship between myself and Axel Crochet, I must observe that he is even more naïve than I and a good deal more reckless, particularly when it comes to rushing headlong to the rescue of a female companion or colleague.  For me, as for Axel, Québec marked the end of a twenty-year career as a musicologist and the start of a twenty-year career as a calculus teacher.  As to whether Axel will follow my footsteps into my latest career as a psychotherapist, you’ll have to ask him.

Novellas

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The Quarter Note Tales

Three novellas featuring Axel Crochet, peripatetic professor of music history.

An Unfaltering Trust.  When the apparent suicide of a popular English professor begins to look more like murder, Axel finds that the “suicide note” seems to make reference to the victim’s wife, his student lover and his competitor for the deanship.  The text of a choral elegy puts Axel on the killer’s trail, but not before a comely coed meets her death.

Murder in the Music Department.  An irreverent look at academic amphigory.  Prof. Crochet returns home from a weekend conference to learn that chairman of the music department has been murdered and the police are about to arrest the voice teacher.  Axel, believing the woman to have been wrongfully accused, soon finds himself in the midst of the action.

Murder in the Pulpit.  The senior minister of Allegheny United Church dies while delivering his Christmas Eve sermon.  Axel soon becomes caught in a tangled web of shady real estate practices, illegal dumping and financial malfeasance on the part of church members.  Axel begins to wonder whether the minister, for all his autocratic style, was really in the intended victim.

New Quarter Note Tales

A Faculty Affair.  As the new professor of musicology at Rochambeau’s Fleur de Lis University, Axel stumbles upon a colossal cover-up when he discovers a letter suggesting that the efforts of his predecessor to move the School of Music form the Faculty of Arts to the Faculty of Letters may have had fatal consequences.

The Music Man Mystery.  As director of a production of The Music Man in Rochambeau, Québec, Axel has to make changes when the leading man dies a few days before the performance. Although the police rule it an accident, cast members mutter about suicide.  Then, some information suddenly appears that makes murder seem much more likely.

Fire and Ice.  When fire breaks out at the tiny Galton School, claiming the life of one of its students, suspicion falls on a known pyromaniac.  Then, the bursar breaks her neck on the icy front steps.  Axel, the school’s music director, discovers financial records—stuffed inside a hymnal and concealed in the chapel piano—indicating that these accidents may have been murder.

Axel Crochet:  Musicologist-at-Large

Die, For I Am A-Dying.  Abby Fox, a music major at an exclusive women’s college where Axel temporarily teaches, commits suicide after her father dies.  But after Axel’s other students persuade him that Abby would never have taken her own life, Axel begins an investigation that soon implies she may have been murdered.

Prime Suspect.  As a visiting scholar at Magnolia University, Axel is unexpectedly embroiled in another case when one of his classmates dies in an accident and he takes possession of her computer—a decision that leads him into a struggle with a computer genius in a story involving Proust and prime numbers.

Tarry Awhile.  As a visiting professor at Frangipani University, Axel discovers that his life mirrors that of Faust when the death of a stage director draws him into a maelstrom of jealousy and violence in the world’s largest school of music.

Quarter Note Tales #4: An Axel Crochet Trilogy

Cat’s Paw.  The organist at Monongahela University dies at the keyboard in the midst of an Honors Convocation, with cacophonous results.  Pushed by one of his colleagues into investigating the death, Axel nearly loses his own life.

The Carcassonne Codex.  Axel travels to Minneapolis as organizer of a session on Debussy at the annual meeting of the American Musicological Society.  His involvement with an attractive woman whom he meets on the plane draws him into the world of medieval studies where the possession of a 12th-century manuscript entails both success and peril.

If Thine Eye Offend Thee.  As recently-appointed music director of a wealthy Anglican church in southern Ontario, Axel encounters a rector whose ruthless behavior has led to the departure of a quarter of the congregation.  When the author of an anonymous blog demanding the rector’s removal dies, Axel wonders whether it was really a heart attack. 

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