Have you ever wondered what really goes on behind the scenes at your typical high school? Are the teachers and administration as tedious and mundane as they seem? If these questions have ever crossed your mind, prepare to have these assumptions shaken up as you are transported to Jefferson High… where things are anything but normal!

The story begins with our pretty, young heroine, Emma, having left her home and lecherous former husband to start a new life in Pinewood Colorado. She is set to start her first teaching assignment at Jefferson High and is an energetic, bundle of nerves. Emma quickly befriends another more experienced teacher named Leslie, who proceeds to introduce her to the various interesting and amusing teachers and administration at the school. However, when Melvin the school janitor is found murdered, the two lady teachers team up to try and solve the crime on their own. What follows is a series of adventures and misadventures as the pair discover a multitude of clues on their quest to unravel the mystery. Will they succeed? Or will they find themselves to be the next victims in this intriguing mystery.

Essentially, this story is designed for fans of mysteries, but I would contend that there is something in it for fans of all genres and various age groups. The author does a wonderful job in creating a number of plot twists and turns that you would expect to see in a great mystery. Weaved into all of this is the continuous use of the humor element which transforms this story from a typical mystery novel, to more of the lighter and cozier variety.

As a former teacher and school principal for almost 30 years, it did not take me long to recognize the setting or characters in the novel. From the bustling energy on the school grounds, the unique smell of the classroom, and the various cliques formed within the staffroom, it was all a pretty accurate portrayal. The author was even able to capture the nervous excitement, anticipation and pride a beginning teacher feels when they walk into their room. In fact, I found myself wondering how this author was so aptly able to capture the high school environment. It was only after I finished the book that I realized Kaye is a former teacher herself which allowed her to use concrete personal experience in her descriptions.

I also found the characters in the novel to be quite believable and typical of individuals you would find in a high school. Of course, the author elaborated on their depiction (such as the skateboarding Principal or bully football coach), but that was all part of the humor and thematic style of the book. The characters were continually evolving and growing right until the very end of the novel.

I read a lot of mysteries and am usually able to guess “whodunnit” before it is ultimately revealed. I must say this was not the case for this book. A testament to the authors ability to work her craft. It is not a predictable book in any shape or form. I look forward to reading more books by Kelley Kaye as I believe she has some wonderful storytelling talent.

If you like to have your funny bone tickled and enjoy mysteries, then Death By Diploma is just what you have been looking for.

This reader gives it 4 cozy stars!