Title: A Darker Shade of Crimson
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publication Date: 1998
Binding: Hard Cover
Book Condition: As New
Dust Jacket Condition: As New
283 pages. A novel about how Ella Fisher ended up dead on the first day of the fall semester, and how her friend sets out to solve the crime. Size: 8vo - over 7¾" - 9¾" tall. Bookseller Inventory # 009046
Synopsis: Being young, gifted, and black at Harvard has always been difficult. For Rosezella Maynette Fisher, outspoken sister girl and controversial Dean of Students at Harvard Law School, it was murder.
And the debonair new President of Harvard is a prime suspect.
A Darker Shade of Crimson is a novel about how Ella Fisher ended up dead on the first day of the fall semester, and how her friend Veronica (Nikki) Chase -- a smart, ambitious, attractive, and well-connected black economics professor -- sets out to solve the crime, and in the process uncovers some of Harvard's most deeply buried secrets.
At twenty-eight, Nikki is a rising star, the only black professor in Harvard's economics department. After stumbling over Ella Fisher's body during a blackout in a classroom building, she is quickly plunged into the investigation of her death. With the occasional tip from Raphael Griffin, a Harvard policeman, Nikki learns that plenty of people could have wanted Ella dead. There is the new Harvard President Leo Barrett, whose rise to the top Ella helped engineer. Before her death, many thought Ella was Leo's lover. Now he's looking perpetually exhausted and guilty. Did they have a fatal falling out? Or did Leo's high-society Brahmin wife, Victoria Wolcott Barrett, kill Ella to stop the affair? Perhaps the sleek university comptroller, Christian Chung -- whom Nikki comes to suspect is the leader of an embezzlement scheme that Ella uncovered just before she died -- did the deed. Or it could have been the Chairman of the Economics Department and Nikki's mentor, Ian McAllister, who suddenly seems to have unlimited cash. Finally, there's Ella's radical Afrocentric ex-husband Isaiah Fisher, who Nikki discovers was holding a long-buried secret over Ella's head.
Only two people seem to mourn Ella's passing: her blue-blooded, Wellesley-educated secretary, Lindsey Wentworth; and Ella's best girlfriend, Alix Coulter, an actress from Texas with attitude. With their help, Nikki sets out to unravel simultaneously the mystery of Ella's death and the complications of her own love life. Dante Rosario, her long-lost exboyfriend, turns up and sets off a chemical reaction; meanwhile, Justin Simms, a Harvard Law School student who flirts like a master, won't take no for an answer. It takes the combined wisdom of Nikki's landlady, Magnolia Dailey, and her best friend, Jessica Leiberman, to help her understand her own heart as she drives toward the shocking conclusion that will turn all of Harvard on its ear.
Proving that love can be murder, A Darker Shade of Crimson launches a major new career in crime fiction.
Review: In her debut outing as a mystery novelist, Pamela Thomas-Graham introduces the world to a delightful and exciting amateur female detective, Nikki Chase. At 30, Nikki has already eschewed a career on Wall Street to become a professor of economics at Harvard, her alma mater. She is brilliant, beautiful, ambitious, and black--a characteristic Thomas-Graham makes clear from the get-go. "Being young and black at Harvard requires advanced survival skills," she writes. "Seven generations of us have found it exhilarating, perplexing, difficult, and dangerous. For Rosezella Maynette Fisher, it was murder."
When Rosezella, Harvard's most powerful black woman and Nikki's good friend, dies mysteriously on the eve of a new school year, Nikki finds herself compelled to track down all the clues leading to the killer. A cast of richly drawn and complex characters helps and hinders her quest. For advice, she turns occasionally to Raphael Griffin, a cop who has traded the bougainvillea of the British Virgin Islands for the ivy of Harvard Yard. For moral support, she turns to Maggie Daily, a teacher, landlady, and poet whose rich stories and rolling tones provide the book with texture, history, and charm. Like any other good woman detective, Nikki has a love life as perplexing as the mystery to be solved. Her long-lost ex-boyfriend, Dante Rosario, returns to town, bringing with him more sizzle and spark than Nikki is prepared to handle.
Though it's not as dark and creepy as Paullina Simons's 1996 campus-based mysteryThe Red Leaves, A Darker Shade of Crimson captures all the power, tradition, and atmosphere of the Ivy League campus. And while Thomas-Graham does explore the social and political issues surrounding race at Harvard, she manages to avoid the pitfalls of turning a well-crafted mystery into a polemic. --L.A. Smith
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