Book review: The Professor by Lauren Nossett

Thursday, January 4, 2024 Permalink

The Professor by Lauren Nossett is the second book I’ve read by the former professor. In my review of The Resemblance I talked about it being obvious that she was ‘writing what she knew’ which is an old adage for authors. It too was set at a university and meant that readers were privy to the innermost workings of life-on-campus (and behind closed professorial doors).

This started a little slowly for me. Dragging to the point I was tempted to put it down just after starting, which would draw its reading out and I’d feel less inclined to get back to it, ultimately resulting in a reading slump. However… the action picks up significantly about two-thirds of the way through and Nossett throws in some twists so the novel finishes on a high.

Book review: The Professor by Lauren NossettThe Professor
by Lauren Nossett
Published by Macmillan Australia
on 14/11/2023
Source: PanMacmillan
Genres: Crime Fiction, Thriller / Suspense
ISBN: 1761269895
Pages: 350

Ethan Haddock is discovered in his apartment, dead, apparently by his own hand. His professor is taken in for questioning, and rumors swirl that his death is the result of a student-teacher bad romance. The story hits the media, an investigation is opened, the professor is suspended, and social media crusaders and trolls alike are out for blood.

Marlitt Kaplan has never investigated love affairs. A former detective turned research assistant, she misses the excitement of her old job. When her mother, a colleague of the accused professor, asks for her help, Marlitt finds herself in the impossible position of proving something didn't happen.

Without the authority to interview suspects or access phone records, she will have to get closer to a victim's life than ever before. But will she get too close to see the truth?

I hadn’t really remembered Marlitt in any detail from the first book but Nossett gets readers up to speed quickly on the events of the first book. She quit the police before she was pushed and has been cut off by her former partner as she’d endangered his girlfriend… seemingly willing to do anything to catch the bad guys. Which is kinda the same here and she even wonders if she’s (again) put someone life at risk by keeping secrets.

She’s initially reluctant to help her mother’s colleague (Verena) but quickly drawn into the case. And it helps she’s kinda in no-man’s-land – not a cop or an investigator, so accountable to no one. She’s ostensibly working as her father’s research assistant so doesn’t even tell her parents she’s moving into the flat – the very bedroom – recently vacated by the deceased student. I was a tad skeptical that she’d get away with giving a fake name on the application papers for the room but swear I am trying very hard not to let practicalities distract me in my reading.

This book unfolds from several points of view. Marlitt, obviously. But also Verena’s and Ethan’s. Their voices help us understand their relationship – the kindredness they see in each other… their fragility. In fact I would have liked to have had more insight into Verena in that aspect. We learn a little about Ethan but – though we know something of Verena’s background – I was less-clear on how she came to be struggling so much when she starts at the university and meets Ethan.

Nossett offers up a good support cast here as she gives us quite a bit of insight into Ethan’s flatmates, Spencer and Sadie, and I appreciated the way in which she steadily allows Marlitt to get a clearer picture of their relationship with Ethan and some of the assumptions she initially makes.

Although this started a little slowly and felt quite plodding, the pace picks up dramatically as we near the conclusion and Nossett throws in several twists so it ends in a way that feels quite satisfying. And there’s also a little hint at a change in direction for Marlitt as well, which may mean more in this series.

The Professor by Lauren Nossett was published in Australia by Pan Macmillan.

I received an advance copy of this book from the publisher for review purposes. 


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