The Professor, Lauren Nossett’s sophomore mystery, is a deep dive into the world of academia, where ivy-covered walls hide forbidden love affairs, deadly competition and plenty of secrets.
Former police detective Marlitt Kaplan is still reeling from the events of The Resemblance, which saw her removed from the force. Living with her parents and trying to find her way, she agrees to help when one of her mother’s colleagues at the University of Georgia finds herself the subject of a Title IX investigation.
Professor Verena Sobek has been struggling. A Turkish German woman, Verena is not what her students expect in a German language professor. Every day is plagued by anxiety: Her students are distant and often cutting in their remarks, and then there’s the relentless nature of academia’s “publish or perish” mindset. The one student who shows her kindness is Ethan Haddock. But when Ethan shocks everyone by killing himself, leaving behind an apology to Verena, rumors of a scandalous affair begin to swirl.
Marlitt agrees to investigate Ethan to help clear Verena’s name—and to ease her own mounting boredom—but she finds the case to be anything but straightforward. Posing as a student and moving into Ethan’s old room in an off-campus apartment he shared with some peculiar roommates, Marlitt immerses herself in a world that is as adversarial and alienating for students as it is for professors. Although older, Marlitt finds that she, discomfitingly, has a lot in common with the students. Unmoored after her dismissal from the police force, she is also transitioning between phases of her life, and given her current reliance on her parents, she lacks the independence of most people her age.
Nossett is a professor herself, and her portrayal of UGA is immersive and filled with real-life details. A whodunit with dark academia undertones, The Professor can be read as standalone, but readers may find themselves immediately seeking out The Resemblance after finishing Nossett’s impressive mystery.