A less-than-rewarding debut thriller about rampant campus wickedness. Anson Templeton, dean of small but prestigious Simsbury College in Georgeville, Maine, is a rotter. He likes kinky sex, easy money, and bullying. Compare him with the brothers of Sigma Delta Phi, however, and he all but shines. Yet Sigma is Simsbury’s premier fraternity house, home to big-men-on-campus, star athletes, and even a smartie or two. Everyone, it appears, yearns to go Sigma. But no one—that is, no outsider—really knows what membership entails. What’s demanded of Sigmas is nothing short of Mafia-like fealty. Orders come down from fat-cat alumni, through an eager brotherhood, to robotic pledges, who understand (it’s been beaten into them) that the edicts are to be obeyed without reference to propriety, morality, or even legality. For stalwart Sigmas the prizes are glittering: big jobs post-graduation, big incomes, the time-honored Faustian compact. And these shabby shenanigans have been going on for 200 years—until the night the fun and games go too far, when the naked, badly mauled, hazed-to-death body of a Sigma pledge is found by a campus cop. Dean Templeton leaps immediately into action. The boy was depressed, he says. An obvious suicide. Tragic, certainly, but clearly Sigma is not at fault. He quickly convenes the student body’s compliant Discipline Squad to participate in the cover-up, expecting it to rubber-stamp a phony investigation. But Templeton is wrong about two of the students: Shawn Jakes, the golden girl with the cantankerous mind, and Mark Jessy, the charming ne’er-do-well who turns out to be the stuff of superheroes. By bringing to light a corrosive pattern of chicanery, conspiracy, brutality, and, yes, murder, Jakes and Jessy eventually bring down the horrid house of Sigma. Irritating when it’s not merely silly’sordid, outlandish, and dispiriting.