Aaron Asherfeld, a northern California PI introduced in A Clean Sweep, probes the suspicious death of a philosophy professor in this campus mystery that centers around-and takes some potshots at-issues of gay, women's and minority rights. The medical examiner's report states that the man, whose remains have been cremated, died of apparently natural causes, but the rumor is he was murdered and his penis cut off. The laconic Asherfeld, who never passes up a chance to crack wise, learns that the dead prof had garnered lots of federal grant funds, much of it unaccounted for, and eventually suspects he has found evidence of money laundering through campus organizations and the smuggling of illegal aliens. He also runs into an Asian who has a large dragon tattooed on his hand. Berlinski overloads his twisted plot with angles that veer off into dead ends as Asherfeld consistently retreats from difficult questions rather than pursue them. While all is wrapped up neatly, Asherfeld comes across more like a Spenser retread than a convincing character on his own. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 10/31/1994 Release date: 11/01/1994 Genre: Fiction
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