Writer Pamela Thomas-Graham leads two lives. She's a high power
executive at CNBC, and she's the author of three successful
mysteries. It's no wonder then that the main character of her
series of Ivy League novels, Nikki Chase, is also dividing her
time: during the day she's a Harvard professor of economics, but in
her free time she's solving crimes like a pro. If the author can
do, why not the lead character.
Her first book, A DARKER SHADE OF CRIMSON, set at Harvard,
introduced Chase. In her second, BLUE BLOOD, Chase solved a
Yale-based mystery. Now, ORANGE CRUSHED takes Chase to Princeton,
where the plot reads like something right out of the Chronicle of
Higher Education: top-ranking professors are being wooed away from
one Ivy League to another.
In an effort to boost her lapsing credibility (in the wake of too
much time solving mysteries in the previous two books and not
enough time pursuing tenure), Chase accepts the invitation of Earl
Stokes, a respected colleague, to participate in an academic
conference at Princeton. Stokes's reputation as a scholar at the
forefront of black studies has made him a hot ticket, and he is
about to accept an offer to take a powerful position at Harvard.
Before he can, the new building for the Center of Black Studies at
Princeton is destroyed in a questionable fire, and Stokes's charred
body is found in the remains. The suspects are many: his wife,
angered by years of secret infidelities; his estranged son, never
spoken of by Stokes; his competition at Harvard; and his
competition at Princeton. Embroiled again, Chase, with the help of
her brother and a Princeton alum, is on the hunt for Stokes's
murderer. And the results of her sleuthing are shocking, to those
at Old Nassau and to those in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Like Thomas-Graham herself, Chase is a savvy and well-respected
expert in her field. She's a black female working in a world of
white males --- and succeeding! Chase is an attractive character in
a clever mystery that proves you never really know someone. Well
worth the read.
Reviewed by Roberta O'Hara on January 13, 2011