Pamela Thomas-Graham gives us more in her debut novel, A Darker Shade of Crimson, than just a good mystery story; she takes us inside academia and lets us in on what it feels like to be young, black, gifted, and good looking in an ivy league school that's almost all white and certainly up-tight (not unlike the author who graduated from Harvard and Harvard Law School with honors galore). Nikki Chase, the leading lady here, is an assistant professor of economics at Harvard. On the first day of the fall semester, Nikki stumbles over the dead body of the outspoken, controversial African-American Dean of Students at the Law School. Nikki, suspecting something more than a tragic accident, begins an investigation of her own and uncovers more than the ordinary academic acrimony and enmity. Hazelle Goodman plays Nikki most convincingly, and I hope she and Ms. Thomas-Graham will be back with an encore.

Reviewed by Sukey Howard.

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