cover image State University of Murder: A Nick Hoffman Mystery

State University of Murder: A Nick Hoffman Mystery

Lev Raphael. Perseverance, $15.95 trade paper (336p) ISBN 978-1-56474-609-2

In Raphael’s entertaining ninth mystery featuring literature professor Nick Hoffman, the campus of the State University of Michigan has finally settled down after the horrific violence of 2014’s Assault with a Deadly Lie, and Nick Hoffman and his fellow lit professor husband, Stefan, are slowly moving on with their lives. Their attempts are hindered, though, by the new department head, Napoléon Padovani, a hotshot who has a lot of radical ideas for the department, many of which involve various program cuts and faculty being assigned to courses they can’t stand. Padovani’s behavior also extends to sexual harassment, and by the time he’s finally killed, almost everyone in the department is a viable suspect. Raphael’s sharp takes on university politics overshadows the plot, which builds to a denouement that may not please some readers but is realistic in not tying up all the loose ends. While the jabs at the academy might not rise to the level of Lucky Jim, the distinctive characters and authenticity of the setting keep the story moving forward. Series fans will hope they won’t have to wait years to see Nick again. (Apr.)