Personally life is more complicated. He has been carrying on an affair with Carrie Woods, a professor in his department, while also in an intimate relationship with Angel Shaftson.
Merrill’s personal and professional lives collide shortly after he gets the fellowship. After discovering the interdepartmental relationship Rose Shelton, another graduate student, is convinced the affair gave Merrill an unfair advantage in the fellowship process. Shaftson is equally angry when she learns of the affair.
Within the university Merrill is facing conflict with his departmental supervisor, Connor Hadley, over Hadley’s use of the Learn It!!! software in support of his tenure application.
There is no shortage of suspects when Merrill is murdered.
Professor Joel Williams, a former police officer, had known Merrill who had been observing his classes. Wanting to find out what happened he starts making discreet inquiries around the campus and with former colleagues.
The investigation proceeds logically. It is a well plotted book that gave me insight into the turbulence of academia. The competition for place and advancement is fierce. It is a complex world. Trying to keep track of the roles within the department and the committees is challenging. Not surprisingly, with the author a university professor, the book is at its best inside the department.
At the same time the book lacked drama for me. Everyone at the university is so earnest. All are efficient and good at their jobs. Beyond the major conflicts setting up the suspects things go so smoothly. There are no minor irritations or disagreements.
It is an unusual investigation in the scrupulousness of all involved. Everyone at the university is careful not to interfere with or bother the police.
I wish I could have learned more about the characters. There is little information on their backgrounds and motivations.
Margot kindly provided me with a copy of the book. I appreciate her sending it to me. Having read her blog, Confessions of a Mystery Novelist, for almost a year I can see her voice in the book. She also sent me the second book in the series, B-Very Flat. I am looking forward to reading and reviewing it in the new year. (Dec. 17/11)