Another body blow to Harvard: the murder of the Princeton African-American economist they’re wooing.
Harvard economist Nikki Chase, whose pursuit of tenure keeps getting interrupted by her amateur sleuthing (Blue Blood, 1999, etc.), is visiting the Woodrow Wilson School to give a paper at the American Economic Association and pay her respects to Earl Stokes, the brilliant, humane mentor she shares with a generation of grateful students. Will the bestselling author of Color Counts override his retiring wife Eula’s obvious reluctance to pull up stakes and accept Harvard’s full-court press? The question’s rendered moot when a suspicious fire destroys his legacy, the new Princeton Center for African American Studies, and Stokes along with it. Who would kill such a beloved figure? Nobody but his widow, maybe, and the high-handed reverend hovering protectively over her, and the blowhard conservative editor who signed up for his class so that he could heckle him on a weekly basis, and the radical son he never spoke of, and the ambitious protégé who hoped to succeed him on his departure for Cambridge. Naturally, the cops overlook these obvious suspects and arrest Nikki’s brother Eric, a Princeton grad student, eliminating any chance that she’ll take their advice and lay off the case. After chapters and chapters of sharply observed scenes of academic/political infighting, Thomas-Graham suddenly remembers she’s writing a mystery and piles on improbably dark revelations.
Watch your back, Cornel West.