cover image Academy Gothic

Academy Gothic

James Tate Hill. Southeast Missouri State Univ., $15 trade paper (238p) ISBN 978-0-9903530-8-9

Tate Cowlishaw, the droll narrator of Hill’s fine first novel, may be legally blind, but he’s clever enough to realize that the death of Randall “Scoot” Simkins, the dean of Parshall College in Grayford, N.C., was not suicide as the cops insist. For one thing, there were the three bullet holes in Simkins’s head, as well as the fact that the man was justifiably hated by everyone he encountered as he guided Parshall from mediocrity into abysmal failure. Tate becomes an amateur sleuth to solve the crime in hopes of saving his own job as a business instructor at the college. His investigation is largely notable, though, for the bizarre quirks he discovers about his fellow members of the college community—and for the opportunities he finds to share mordant observations about the condition of higher education in America. The dead-on parody of academic jargon and the well-spun plot alone make this mystery worth reading. (Oct.)