Review: Indianapolis investigative reporter Kevin Gibson travels to an elite college in Nebraska to look into the disappearance of a student in The University, the second mystery in this series by Jeffrey Leever.
Kevin's cousin ("former cousin-in-law", as he puts it) Deswood Graham, an ex-cop from Tremont, Nebraska, relates a story of mysterious goings-on at the local university, eventually piquing the reporter's interest. "Think about it," Desmond says, "[an] unsolved murder in a college town, a two-year-old mystery, an inept police investigation, a missing student." Dead is a co-ed, shot in the face two years ago, her boyfriend also shot, but not killed, and who remains in a coma. The missing student is James Reed, who seems to have simply vanished one night. His friend, Brett Duncan, seems to be the only one concerned about his disappearance. The police have no interest in looking into the matter, and even his family seems resigned that he's gone for good, though why is unknown. Kevin travels to Tremont and learns of a secret organization, one with possible occult leanings, that may be operating in the town and using the university as its base.
For a purported suspense thriller, The University suffers from not being terribly suspenseful or thrilling. The problem lies not in the subject matter, but in the way it's presented. The narrative is excessively choppy with too many characters participating in rapidly shifting points of view. The author also frequently uses mini point-of-view cliffhangers as a means of generating suspense. ("He slit the seal and saw a piece of paper, which he took out and unfolded. Need help on this one! Instantly he recognized the handwriting. He glanced back in the envelope. Professor Howard couldn't believe what he saw next.") Finally, so much is known to the reader about what's happening in Tremont and on the university campus that Kevin's investigation, which should be a means of tying everything together, seems almost redundant.
The University tends to fall into the movie-of-the-week category of novels, one with some interest and appeal, but in the end, one of little substance.
Acknowledgment: Jeffrey Leever provided an ARC of The University for this review.
Review Copyright © 2009 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved
Location(s) referenced in The University: Nebraska
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The University by Jeffrey Leever — A Kevin Gibson Mystery
Publisher: Capital Crime Press
Format: Trade Paperback
Publication Date: November 2009
List Price: $14.95