Thursday, August 27, 2009

Review: Murder on Campus! Great Whodunit!

Defending College Heights
By Stuart Nachbar
iUniverse
ISBN: 9780595496310
217 Pages

Stuart Nachbar's Defending College Heights brought back many memories of working within the political and town-gown relations on a university campus (for nearly 40 years). For recruiting commander Kevin Callahan, he didn't even have the opportunity to learn.

Soon after he came home from Iraq, Kevin was made commander of recruitment in the area surrounding Hudson Technical University. Hudson had a long association with the military service for campus recruitment as most federally supported universities do. As plans for the annual job fair were finalized, a protest against the war in Iraq was made in the most horrifying way possible--Kevin was killed, and left in one of the campus guardhouses. "No More Lies" had been left as a message on his t-shirt.

Jack Donnelly, Kevin's uncle, had helped raise Kevin and greatly cared for both his sister and Kevin. He went to identify the body and stayed. He was upset with the way the investigation was "not" being conducted, since the army was deferring to local police to handle the case.

But the president of the university was a savvy lady and she intended to ensure that her institution was saved in light of the potential damage that Kevin's murder could have. She convinced Jack to come and work for her, using his urban planning skills, and assured him that she would not interfere if he then conducted his own investigation in his off hours. Really gutsy president! I enjoyed watching her in action with peers, faculty and board members.

Student and/or community anti-war groups were suspected the most. As Jack began to both handle his new job assignments as well as make inquiries around town, he began to question quite a number of people. Interestingly, as things moved forward, it was the students who originally were protestors of the war that worked the hardest to help solve the case. I was pleased that Nachbar showed that the students were not involved!

For murder is a tool of those seeking power or more power. And that held true at Hudson Technical University. For the power sought was to be able to close this institution of higher learning and sell the property for non-educational uses!

Defending College Heights is a good solid whodunit, while providing readers the opportunity to learn about and evaluate armed forces recruitment within a university campus. Believe me, the political environment is really close to reality, in one way or another. Highly recommended.

G. A. Bixler