Skip to main content

The Professor


The Professor

THE PROFESSOR is a mystery/thriller securely planted within the framework of the modern academia world and influences of social media and gossip. In Lauren Nossett’s second novel, following THE RESEMBLANCE, a professor in Athens, Georgia, is accused not only of having an illicit relationship with a student, but of bringing about his tragic death via an apparent suicide.

We hear from the major players involved in separate chapters throughout the book. They are Dr. Verena Sobek, the professor; Ethan Haddock, the eager student who makes a connection with Verena in her German class and clearly has feelings for her; and Marlitt Kaplan, who recently quit her job as an investigator with the Athens P.D. following an incident that called her judgment into question while on the job.

Marlitt’s mother is also a college instructor who had taken Verena under her wing. She begs her daughter to find out the truth and help save Verena’s career. The accused continues to work towards the American dream she had when she first came to this country, but those aspirations are now on the verge of being shattered forever.

"This is a fine piece of intelligent mystery fiction that also serves as an indictment on our modern society and the threats of closed-minded, tight-lipped academic institutions."

Marlitt begins her unofficial investigation by speaking with some students and campus figures who were recommended by her mother. But to get the complete picture, she needs to find out more about Ethan and take a close look at various social media posts about what went down. Marlitt is horrified at what Verena is being accused of online and the possible punishments that are suggested by the many internet trolls who truly know nothing about the situation.

At this point, Marlitt decides to do something extremely risky. Posing as a college researcher looking for housing for the remaining few months of the school year, she checks out a room in an apartment where two students reside --- and it’s the same room where Ethan died. She moves in with her new roommates and calls herself Marley. Nothing much has been changed or removed from Ethan’s room, so she has an opportunity to immerse herself in his life to see if anything rings true for her.

Marlitt is almost oblivious to the danger in which she could be placing herself. This part of the book called to mind Tana French’s brilliant novel, THE LIKENESS, in which a detective who is the spitting image of a murdered young woman steps in to resume her life amidst a house full of roommates, any of whom could’ve been her killer. This exciting and almost unbearably suspenseful plot line will make any reader feel uneasy.

What Marlitt uncovers may not be what she expected at all, and Lauren Nossett keeps the guessing game and clues coming at a rapid pace. This is a fine piece of intelligent mystery fiction that also serves as an indictment on our modern society and the threats of closed-minded, tight-lipped academic institutions.

Reviewed by Ray Palen on November 17, 2023

The Professor
by Lauren Nossett

  • Publication Date: November 14, 2023
  • Genres: Fiction, Mystery, Suspense, Thriller
  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Flatiron Books
  • ISBN-10: 1250845351
  • ISBN-13: 9781250845351