Death of a Department Chair: A Novel

Death of a Department Chair: A Novel

3.7 4
by Lynn C. Miller
     
 

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In Death of a Department Chair, protagonist Miriam Held recounts the events of the previous fall when she was suspected of killing Isabel Vittorio, the chair of her department and her former lover. The controversial and contrary Vittorio was, at the time of her death, attempting to block the hire of a brilliant African American female professor. Already under…  See more details below

Overview

In Death of a Department Chair, protagonist Miriam Held recounts the events of the previous fall when she was suspected of killing Isabel Vittorio, the chair of her department and her former lover. The controversial and contrary Vittorio was, at the time of her death, attempting to block the hire of a brilliant African American female professor. Already under siege for her attempts to increase diversity on campus, Miriam is forced to defend her reputation and her life. As she searches for the truth, Miriam amasses evidence that leaves few friends and colleagues free from suspicion. Both a classic whodunit and a witty satire, Death of a Department Chair dramatizes how communities can create the very climate of mistrust and paranoia that victimizes them.

Editorial Reviews

Kirkus Reviews
The title says it all. Naturally, nobody mourns the passing of Isabel Vittorio, scheming chair of Literature and Rhetoric at Austin University, which looks an awful lot like the University of Texas, where Miller (The Fool's Journey, not reviewed) teaches in the Theatre and Dance Department. Isabel's colleagues are more shocked than grieved when she's found battered to death in her office, slumped nude behind her desk. But they aren't all that shocked, either. As Miriam Held, Isabel's one-time lover and her recent rival in the election for chair, puts it: "What a hideous way to begin the week." Miriam tells psychic Daphne Arbor: "This feels like a trashy movie." No such luck. Instead of over-acting, or acting at all, Isabel's colleagues, memorable only for their consensual shunning of heterosexual coitus, merely swan through the groves of academe without an idea in their heads except for departmental politics, lovers past and present and the endless connections between the two. The resulting idyll, draped in ceremonious prose and punctuated by Miriam's annoying editorial retrospectives about what she didn't know back in 2003, is less humane than Amanda Cross and less witty than Lev Raphael, but otherwise identical to every other collegiate mystery you've ever read, only more so-except for a muddled ending that supplies less bang than whimper. The definitive epitaph is supplied by the police detective: "Please, let's not be academic."
From the Publisher
"Everything moves fast in this mystery romp about desire and academic greed. Lynn Miller gives us not one but two deliciously insensitive villains and one first-rate heroine, not to mention a jumble of realistic crazies that anyone who's ever majored in anything at any university will recognize. A page turner whose witty and caring author makes us curious not only about who done it but who, amazingly enough, managed to hold off and not do it."—Carol Bly, author of My Lord Bag of Rice

"A tidy mystery with enough ambitious careerists and theorists to staff a dozen dysfunctional lit departments. Miller knows where the academic bodies are buried both literally and figuratively, and she touches up a traditional mystery with some lively, non-traditional angles."—Janice Law, author of Nightbus

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780299219734
Publisher:
University of Wisconsin Press
Publication date:
10/10/2006
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
250
File size:
376 KB

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Meet the Author

Lynn C. Miller is professor in the Department of Theatre and Dance at the University of Texas at Austin. She is the author of a novel, The Fool’s Journey, and coeditor of Voices Made Flesh: Performing Women’s Autobiography.

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