Something to Hide

Peter Levine, Author
Peter Levine, Author St. Martin's Press $22.95 (0p) ISBN 978-0-312-14047-2
Reviewed on: 04/01/1996
Release date: 04/01/1996
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In his debut, Levine indulges in a paranoid nightmare as a grad student's missing dissertation leads to a secret society and a battle over a Supreme Court nomination. Zach Blumberg, a doctoral candidate in philosophy at Yale, is annoyed, then increasingly perplexed, when he discovers that five drafts of--and all notes for--his dissertation on Joseph Maistre are missing. Meanwhile, Zach registers the televised proceedings of the confirmation hearing of Judge Wendell Frye, but he isn't too interested in the debate until he learns that the nominee may be an adherent of Maistre. After he puts an ad in the New York Review of Books stating that he wants to talk to the thief, Zach hears from a Princeton grad student named Charles, who says the same thing happened to him. They agree to meet, but Charles doesn't show up; looking for him in New Jersey, Zach meets Charles's neighbor Kate. Together they work to find out why someone would want to steal Charles's dissertation on Nietzsche and Zach's on Maistre. Eventually, they hear of Charles's death in a Northern Virginia motel and learn of the efforts of Zach's department chair to thwart Frye's nomination. It seems some people involved with one of Yale's notorious secret societies are closet nihilists bent on subverting the republic. Levine makes an admirable effort to weave some big ideas (and a few big words) into a mystery, but he's no Umberto Eco and the result is a bit dry on both the philosophy and the mystery fronts. (Mar.)
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