UNIVERSITY OF MURDER
Publisher: Perseverance Press (April, 2019)
Kindle edition: $10.99
A Nick Hoffman Mystery
Reviewed by Shirley Wetzel
English professor Nick Hoffman loves everything about teaching: mentoring bright students; imparting his knowledge to kids who want to learn; the positive reviews students gave about his classes. What he does not love about his place of employment, the State University of Michigan: the Board of Directors who believed higher education should be run as a business; the arrogant, overpaid administrators; and the highly competitive, backstabbing colleagues in his department.
So far he’s had a good relationship with the new department chair, Napol’eon Padovani, but when others in the department start collaring him to complain about the various wrongs the man has done them, he begins to reassess his opinion. Soon enough he finds out the positive feelings he thought Padovani had for him were totally wrong. When the chair threatens everything Nick has built up in the department, and revealed his anti-Semitic feelings, both Nick and his husband Stefan join their colleagues in despising the man.
Padovani orders the professors to attend a team building retreat at a secluded resort, adding to their irritation with him. They all have better things to do than hang out with colleagues they don’t even like. When Nick finds the man’s body in the men’s room, the attendees are shocked, but not sad. Any of them might have done the deadly deed, but since Nick found the not-dearly departed, the police hone in on him.
Nick and Stefan have a troubled history with the lead investigator, and they are still recovering from their traumatic encounter with the SWAT team who’d swarmed their home a few months ago. Knowing the deck is stacked against Nick, they do their own investigating to identify the guilty party. Who knew the hallowed halls of academia could be such a seething cauldron of unpleasantness? Nick Hoffman does, to his sorrow.
The author spent decades in the academic world, and knows it well. The mystery is well-plotted and the characters are unique and well-drawn. Befitting the protagonist’s profession, there is an abundance of literary quotes and a behind-the-scenes look at university politics.
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