Sue Coryell wants every book club in America to have a copy of her newest book, “A Murder of Principle.”
“There is something for everybody to relate to in this book,” she said. “And it’s not just in schools. This happens in any workplace.”
The book is Coryell’s fifth, but a complete departure from her previous Southern gothic trilogy, “A Red, Red Rose,” “Beneath the Stones” and “Nobody Knows.”
Set in a large, diverse high school in an urban city, the 272-page book opens with the murder of the school’s new principal, Wendy Storme, who has been wreaking havoc since starting there earlier in the school year. “She did everything wrong that a leader could do,” Coryell said.
The rest of the novel is a flashback to events leading up to the murder. “Then you have to figure out who did it and why,” Coryell added.
The storyline is woven around a cast of teachers who are determined to make the school the best it can be. There’s Rose Lane, chair of the English department, in addition to Penny Bright, a somewhat naïve English department intern, and Ashante Mabana, director of the school’s English as a Second Language program, among others.
After having done extensive historical research for her previous books, Coryell said she did little research for this one. While she did consult with a friend, who is a teacher in the Juvenile Detention Center, as well as researched methods of murder (“I’m not good at killing people,” she said), Coryell mainly tapped into her 30-year career as a high school English teacher.
“In my teaching experience, I have had excellent principals, good ones, mediocre ones and one real stinker,” Coryell wrote in the press kit for “A Murder of Principle.” “I wondered what would happen if I imposed her on an upscale school in an active community.”
Since its launch in mid-March, reviews have been favorable for Coryell’s new work.
“Great murder mystery,” one reviewer wrote on Amazon.com. “I couldn’t wait to find out which of the many suspects actually was the murderer. Couldn’t put the book down! Everyone who has worked in a school or been a student in a school should get this!”
As for what’s next, Coryell said she is working with a screenwriter to adapt “A Red, Red Rose” into a movie and is collaborating with her yoga instructor to write a book centered on a program involving the Monarch butterfly. “I will write the book, and she will create the descriptions of the poses,” Coryell said.
Just last month, the Huddleston resident found herself in good company as one of a dozen authors featured on the Blue Ridge Public Television show, “Write Around the Corner,” which airs Tuesdays and Fridays at 7:30 p.m. Other authors profiled on the show have included Beth Macy, Lee Smith, Sharyn McCrumb and David Baldacci.
“I feel really honored to be a part of this,” Coryell said. “I am totally in awe of this whole thing.”
Published by The Wild Rose Press Inc., “A Murder of Principle” is available in print at Westlake Library, Moneta/SML Library, Gifts Ahoy, Southern Roots and The General Store. It’s also available electronically and in print at www.amazon.com, www.barnesandnoble.com and www.wildrosepress.com.