Let’s Get Criminal (Lena’s Review)

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Title: Let’s Get Criminal
Author: Lev Raphael
Publisher: ReQueered Tales
Release Date: May 31st 2019 (first published 1996)
Genre(s): Academic mystery, LGBT Fiction
Page Count: 248
Reviewed by: LenaR
Heat Level: 0 flames out of 5
Rating: 3,5 stars out of 5


A Nick Hoffman / Academic Mystery, Book 1

Nick Hoffman has everything he has ever wanted: a teaching job, a nice house, and a solid relationship with his lover, Stefan Borowski, a brilliant novelist and the Michiganopolis University’s writer in residence. But when Perry Cross shows up, Nick’s peace of mind is shattered. Not only does he have to share his office with the nefarious Perry, who managed to weasel his way into a tenured position without qualification, he also discovers that Perry played a destructive role in Stefan’s past. When Perry turns up dead, Nick wonders if Stefan might have had something to do with it while the campus security force is wondering the same about Nick.

Originally published in 1996, this first book in the Nick Hoffman Academic Mystery series is now back in print. This edition contains a 2019 foreword by the author.

It was probably my first academic mystery. I read many mysteries with a writer in a main role, and there were also some professors among them, but not in THIS form: the setting, all the suspects and the investigation, EVERYTHING takes place within the University’s staff, and we have a very close and detailed insight and a description into an academic university’s life. Don’t fool yourself: if someone quote French from a Renaissance drama to every suitable situation THAT still doesn’t prevent this highly educated person from being a murder, blackmailer, sexual harasser or drug dealer, or, so to say, from any art of criminal behavior.

Nick Hoffman, a teaching professor at the State University of Michigan, and Stefan Borowski, a famous novelist and the University’s writer in residence, is an established couple for the last ten years. They are happy together- in spite of their distinct differences or maybe just because of them- until Perry Cross, a new staff member appears and with whom Nick has to share an office.

The reason why Nick dislikes him immediately is not only Perry’s dubious occupation of a tenured position without qualification, but also his false nature and ethically incorrect behavior in many situations. When Stefan confesses to Nick about Perry and his role in his past, Nick’s world collapses.

While they endeavor to solve their relationship’s problem causing by Perry’s appearance, Stefan’s ex will be found dead on campus. What first looks like an accident turns out to be much more complicated. It appears, Perry made many people angry and it seems he had a lot of to hide. But if it wasn’t an accident, then who killed Perry and why? In the efforts to find a truth Nick starts to investigate on his own.

Many suspects and many secrets to discover.

It was an enjoyable read, mostly because of the Nick’s narrative. His voice is witty and fun. What I also enjoyed was an intellectual language, sarcastic description of an academic life, not to forget a wonderful setting of Michigan and Nick’s cooking skills. It could have been though much better read for me, had it have less of a specific academic atmosphere and a bit less of literary references. I wish also that some university’s talks were more compact and less detailed. That all made the book for me, who has nothing to do with a teaching academia work environment in real life, in some parts boring and wordy.

Still, a smart and quirky entertaining read on a high level.

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Galley copy of Let’s Get Criminal provided by in exchange for an honest review.


A passionate reader from Germany. I learned to read at the age of 4 and never stopped since then, though my books from that time were very different from what they are now. English is my third language, and I'm sorry for all grammar mistakes I made in my reviews. But I assure you, that my reading English is much better than my writing English. I'm a seeker for the books that differ from mainstream, that provoke the reader or have very often very opposite ratings.