Thirty-year-old Nikki Chase, the only Black professor in Harvard's economics department, has gone from racing along the fast track to tenure to dangling on the precipice of termination. The problem is her penchant for amateur sleuthing.
During the past few months, she has helped solve two murders: one involving a colleague at Harvard; the other, the wife of a Yale professor. That why heading to Princeton for the weekend to attend an academic conference seems like the perfect opportunity to redeem herself in the eyes of her department head.
While there, she's looking forward to seeing her brother Eric, a graduate student, and attending a gala party to honor Earl Stokes, head of Princeton's department of African American studies. Unfortunately, wherever Nikki goes, dead bodies seem to turn up.
So begins "Orange Crushed" (Pocket paperback, $14), the third installment in Pamela Thomas-Graham's Ivy League Mystery series. When Stokes turns up dead, Nikki can't help but try to find out why.
'UPTOWN' EXAMINES BOTH SIDES OF LIVING THE HIGH LIFE
In "Uptown and Down" (NAL paperback, $13.95), Jennifer Anglade Dahlberg's fiction debut, a fast-track couple experiences the downside of living the high life in New York.
Nora Deschamps is an editor at a chic women's fashion magazine. Her husband, Jeff Montgomery, owns an independent record label that's becoming a megabucks hip-hop phenomenon. Tracked as one of New York magazine's "25 Most Exciting Couples Under 40," Nora and Jeff appear to have it all.
But their future is about to be shaken — by Nora's on-the-rise career that's taking an intimate toll on their lives, by a crime that Jeff is powerless to prevent and ultimately, by the secret of a long-ago indiscretion that now threatens all they've strived to achieve.
From the uptown high life to the downside of love, betrayal and long-standing lies, Nora and Jeff must now fight harder than ever to learn the meaning of trust.
EVANS NOVEL TACKLES THORNY TOPIC OF HUMAN SMUGGLING
Jon Evans' second novel, "The Blood Price" (Dark Alley, $13.95), is a dark journey through the world of international people-smuggling, based upon the author's own continent-spanning adventures.
In an attempt to understand the Bosnian civil war, Evans spent time backpacking solo through Albania, Bosnia and Croatia. There, he learned that the Balkans have become a nexus for a horrific crime: people smuggling. His experiences in the Balkans gave rise to the events of "The Blood Price" and its main character, Paul Wood.
Wood's idea of a good time is the thrill of experiencing new places and new people. While traveling in Bosnia, a land reeling from one of the bloodiest civil wars in history, he sees firsthand that an end to the war doesn't mean an end to brutality. His girlfriend's sister has married a war hero, but the hatred that made the man an elite soldier has transformed him into a monster at home. To save the young woman's life, Paul volunteers to smuggle her out of the country.
Desperate to find a way to secretly escape and return to the United States, Paul enlists the help of Sinisa, a man who specializes in the lucrative business of people smuggling. But the only way that Paul can afford the man's services is if he provides a favor — in the form of loaning out his skills as a hacker. Paul worries that he has made a deal with the devil, and that his attempts to cross the border may end up putting him, his girlfriend and her sister at the bottom of a shallow grave.