Terence Ball Rousseau's Ghost: A Novel

ISBN 13: 9780791439333

Rousseau's Ghost: A Novel

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9780791439333: Rousseau's Ghost: A Novel
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An urgent but cryptic request from Professor Ted Porter summons his old friend and former Rhodes Scholar Jack Davis to Paris. Once there Jack finds his friend dead, apparently electrocuted by a faulty laptop computer. The Parisian police rule the death an accident and close the case. But Jack well knew his friend's deep aversion to modern technology, and to computers in particular, and believes the computer was not Ted's and his death no accident.
Unable to convince the police, Jack begins his own investigation, aided by Danielle, a beautiful young French woman who claims to have been Ted's research assistant and sometime lover. Sifting through Ted's notes and an unfinished manuscript titled Rousseau's Ghost, he finds a mysterious entry: "Inst Pol??!!" Not knowing what this might mean, he travels to Oxford to see his old tutor, who surmises that Ted's shorthand query refers to the Institutions Politiques, a manuscript on which Rousseau worked in the 1750s but later abandoned and burned, except for the small section we now know as the Social Contract. Could the rest of the manuscript have survived? Could Ted have found it? If so, was he murdered for his discovery? Could Jack and Danielle be next?

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About the Author:

Terence Ball is Professor of Political Science at Arizona State University.

From Kirkus Reviews:

The Parisian police tell Jack Davis that his old friend Professor Ted Porter was accidentally electrocuted by a miswired laptop computer. But Jack, summoned to Ted's side by a frantic telegram, knows that Ted hated computers and would never have used one; and Jack's legal secretary and sometime lover Grace Wu, when he ships the offending machine back home to her, discovers that it's been deliberately booby-trapped. So it looks like Ted was murdered, and it looks like Jack is the only person in France who has any interest in tracking down his killer - unless you count the mysterious Danielle Dupin, the entrancing research assistant to whom Ted had dedicated his latest book, the subversive and revelatory study Rousseau's Ghost. As Jack makes his way to Oxford, where he and Ted had been Rhodes Scholars together, and then back to an increasingly dangerous Paris, it becomes clear from Ted's work on Rousseau's lost magnum opus Institutions politiques that author Ball (Political Science/Arizona State) is aiming for a slimmed-down American Name of the Rose - and equally clear that his first novel, which swings from improbable melodrama to heartfelt swipes at deconstructionism and etymological disquisitions on the virtue proper to dogs, owes a lot more to the canons of the academic mystery than to Umberto Eco. Ball's greatest success in bringing Rousseau and his work to life, making it a lot easier to generate the interest in Rousseau readers will need to get immersed in the half-hearted mystery. -- Copyright ©1998, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

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