Thursday, May 24, 2007

Pg. 69: Lev Raphael's "Hot Rocks"

Today's feature at the Page 69 Test: Lev Raphael's Hot Rocks.

About the book, from the author's website:
Fitness = Death when Nick Hoffman heads back to the gym right after a vacation, finding himself caught in a Desperate Housewives-type mystery. Michigan Muscle is a state-of-the-art health club adjacent to the State University of Michigan. Boasting luxurious facilities, the latest equipment, and topnotch personal trainers, it's a palatial complex for fitness. But every palace has its intrigue, and when Nick stumbles across a dead trainer, he's drawn into a web of passion and privilege unlike anything he's ever experienced before. The prime suspect because he's the one who discovered the body, Nick has to work this mystery out to its bitter end.
Among the praise for Hot Rocks:
"If you like your mysteries smart, witty, and steaming with suspense, you won't find a better read than Lev Raphael's Hot Rocks. The new spa in town is proving hazardous to Nick's health, and it's great to be back at his side while he sleuths in the sauna. Lev's turned up the heat in one of my favorite series in crime fiction."
--Linda Fairstein, author of Bad Blood

"Hot Rocks is a comic mystery of bad manners, written with the suspenseful touch of Alfred Hitchcock bred to the epigrammatic wit of Oscar Wilde. The hero of the tale, assistant professor Nick Hoffman, is among the most lovably erudite characters in all of mystery fiction."
--Robert Eversz, author of Zero to the Bone

"This is a refreshingly literate mystery without being the least bit pretentious. It's filled with evocative, beautifully readable prose that has plenty of flow, and no unnecessary words. It's also a lot of fun, sparkling with sharp wit and earthy humor, lightly seasoned with a sprinkle of the sort of casual literary capping I adore in British Golden Age mysteries. The plot is given depth through a variety of subplots, such as the new twist in Stefan's life — and therefore in Nick's — that promises to make things interesting going forward... However, what really makes the story, and the whole series, is the engaging protagonist. Nick is... very funny and very good company.... This is a series entry, but perfectly enjoyable as a standalone. Recommended."
--Kim Malo,

"Raphael's series hero, Nick Hoffman, is in midlife crisis when he and partner Stefan Borowski return from their Caribbean vacation (marred by murder, of course; see Tropic of Murder, 2004) to resume teaching at the State University of Michigan. Nick's musings over getting older halt abruptly when he realizes that his companion in the health-club steam room is head trainer and all-around stud Vlado Zamario, and he's dead. Before you can say 'smoldering temptress,' series regular Professor Juno Dromgoole is on the scene, spreading the news that it's murder and proposing to solve it with Nick, the obvious suspect because of his previous involvements with homicide. Given Vlado's encounters with the women at Michigan Muscle, the plot quickly and deliciously thickens into layers of domestic discord highly seasone d with compromising photos. Raphael's latest smoothly delivers a satisfying mystery while providing insight into the middle-aging of America, gay marriage, the excitement of sleuthing as a means of exercising control over our lives, the 'Orwellian' Patriot Act, and more."
Lev Raphael is the author of Tropic of Murder, Burning Down the House, Little Miss Evil, The Death of a Constant Lover, The Edith Wharton Murders, and Let's Get Criminal.

Visit Lev Raphael's website.

The Page 69 Test: Hot Rocks.

--Marshal Zeringue