Little Miss Evil: A Nick Hoffman Mystery

Lev Raphael, Author Walker & Company $23.95 (256p) ISBN 978-0-8027-3342-9
Professor Nick Hoffman's fall semester gets off to a rocky start in the fourth of Raphael's amusing academic mysteries (The Death of a Constant Lover, etc.). When arrogant, bestselling author Camille Cypriani, ""a cross between Anita Brookner and Judith Krantz,"" receives an endowed chair at the State University of Michigan, the normally rancorous English department turns into a festering zone of envy and resentment. The high-salaried appointee's office displaces a beloved, small library, while other professors are shunted to windowless quarters in the basement. Meanwhile, someone in the department is harassing Nick with threatening messages and vandalism; his lover, Stefan, the writer-in-residence, is in a funk over Camille's appointment and his own less-than-stellar sales; Nick's favorite cousin is facing risky surgery to remove a tumor near her brain; and Nick himself becomes confused when he finds himself attracted to the loud and sexy (and very female) professor of Canadian literature. The campus situation worsens when the university president speaks out for the creation of a Department of White Studies, setting off faculty and student protests. Nick and Stefan survive the upheaval in style and solve the inevitable murder of the resented new colleague. This satire of academia is an enjoyable diversion, despite its uneven, late-developing plot, its flat characterizations of Nick's co-workers-cum-murder suspects, and its author's tendency to stud his prose with glib name-dropping instead of substantive detail. Agent, Curtis Brown Ltd. (May)
Reviewed on: 04/03/2000
Release date: 04/01/2000
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