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Shade by H N Hirsch is a Best Books of '22 pick #mystery #LGBTQ #LGBT #mustread #giveaway

Title Shade

Author H N Hirsch

Genre Mystery, LGBT

Book Blurb

A modern murder mystery. Assistant Professor Marcus George, a young, gay Harvard faculty member striving to find his footing in the Ivy League, is drawn into investigating the murder of one of his former students, the son of an elite Massachusetts family. Centered on the tense, competitive world of academic politics, the narrative vividly captures the publish-or-perish standards of academia, the strictures of life in exclusive enclaves in Boston and Kennebunkport, and the gay subculture along the New England coast. As he investigates the murder, Marcus stumbles across academic and financial corruption that could ruin several lives -- even as he falls into a tender and heartwarming love affair that will change his own. Hirsch's first novel is a beautifully realized, gripping tale in the classic style of the murder mystery genre.


Marcus George stood on the stairs of Widener Library, halfway up, waiting. He was sweating, more from nerves than from the early-summer heat, though he cursed himself for wearing his corduroy jacket, the sort of jacket that was almost a requirement at Harvard back then, part of the uniform of a serious young scholar.

He tried to think of something cool and refreshing and looked around at the old, graceful trees. Harvard Yard was full of people lounging on the grass, talking, laughing. Summer school students were eating bag lunches on the steps of Memorial Church. As usual, he envied the nonchalance of the young.

Two colleagues smiled at him from the bottom of the stairs. Marcus smiled back, his best junior faculty smile, and gave a little wave. They were no doubt on their way to the faculty club for lunch: Deena Echols, newly tenured, and Sidney Hawley, who had been at Harvard for decades. Deena’s smile was tight, dismissive; she had been friendly toward Marcus while she was a lowly untenured assistant professor, but now she was one of the elect and had no time for him. Harvard was full of these subtle signs of its class system. To look busy, Marcus pretended to shuffle some papers in the outside pocket of his briefcase.

Damn preppy. Where the hell is he?

He put his briefcase down on the concrete, loosened his tie, then picked up the briefcase, walked to the bottom of the steps, and considered the rest of his day. PhD oral at 3:00. The obligatory drink after. Then home, alone, as usual.

Looking around Harvard Yard, Marcus wondered how much longer he would have a place here. He glanced up at the library entrance, thought about going to his carrel, but it was just a wire cage looking out on a dreary courtyard, not a real office like those given to the senior faculty. No, he thought, I can’t sit in there right now, too depressing, I’ll grab lunch by myself.

And then he saw Trip emerge from the library entrance at the top of the stairs. He was tan, wearing a polo shirt and chinos, and looked like a model for Banana Republic. He was smiling broadly and waved.

His full name was Addison Cornell Howard III, but everyone called him Trip. Marcus remembered smiling to himself when he first saw the name on his class roster—a true blue blood. Three names, all interchangeable, were the sure sign. It could be three first names, like David Herbert Donald, one of the more eminent Harvard historians, or three last names, like Endicott Peabody Saltonstall, an alum and politician after whom a senior prize had been named. Either way, three interchangeable names were a dead giveaway. Marcus might have been in the club himself except that his parents hadn’t bothered to give him a middle name, he’d grown up working-class, and he was Jewish.

He’d assumed Trip ouldd be the usual spoiled preppy, slightly sneering, above it all, a varsity athlete who cared nothing for his classes, knowing his future was secure. But Trip was different. He was a serious student, diligent, always prepared, insightful, and he wrote concise, razor-sharp essays. Marcus had been the adviser for his senior honors thesis on Abraham Lincoln, and Trip had just graduated magna cum laude. He had written a bold and interesting thesis, tying Lincoln’s early, possibly homoerotic relationship with Joshua Speed to his later ideas about brotherhood and fraternity. It was a subtle work, delicately written, not overplaying the possibility of a physical relationship between Lincoln and Speed, but not underplaying it either. It was well done, original.

Trip was openly, proudly gay, and stunningly beautiful to boot. Tall, muscular, light brown hair that turned blond in the summer, with a smile that could win him the elective office he would no doubt someday seek, continuing the family tradition. His older brother was already a state senator. Among his ancestors were well-known figures from Massachusetts history on both sides of the family, including a U.S. senator, a governor, and a famous abolitionist.

Marcus hadn’t been able to suppress the jolt of attraction he felt looking at Trip, listening to him speak in class or one-on-one during office hours. He tried not to let it show, of course, but they seemed to be playing the usual game. Yes, I know you’re attracted to me, Trip’s manner subtly suggested, but we won’t discuss that or do anything about it. Yes, I know you’re gorgeous and gay, Marcus telegraphed, but you’re a student and I’m a professor, end of story. It was a game Marcus had played before, sometimes reluctantly, sometimes willingly, and by now he recognized its contours and rules.

Buy Links (including Goodreads)

What makes your featured book a must-read?

Well-written, suspenseful mystery that opens the door on academic politics.

Giveaway –

Enter to win a $35 Amazon gift card:

Open Internationally. You must have a valid Amazon US or Amazon Canada account to win.

Runs December 27 – January 5, 2023.

Winner will be drawn on January 6, 2023.

Author Biography

H N Hirsch is a retired political scientist who taught constitutional law and American political thought at institutions such as Harvard and Oberlin College.

1 Comment

N. N. Light
N. N. Light
Dec 30, 2022

Thank you, H N, for sharing your book in our Best Books of 2022 Bookish Event!

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