Book Promo ~ Department of Death

Department of Death:
A Nick Hoffman Mystery

by Lev Raphael

Years ago Nick Hoffman was given a position in the English Department at the State University of Michigan because SUM wanted to hire his partner as writer-in-residence, but now he’s been unexpectedly installed by his dean as chairman of that department. It’s a wildly unpopular choice, and he’s suddenly the focus of more animosity from his colleagues than he’s ever dealt with before. He can’t seem to make anyone happy and can’t get a handle on his myriad new responsibilities as an administrator, a position he never wanted. Then tragedy strikes again way too close to home: Someone seeking his help is murdered, and under the shadow of another recent murder, Nick is a prime suspect. Hounded by campus police, the local press, and social media, Nick wonders if this could finally be the end of his career―that is, if he manages to stay out of prison.

In the spirit of David Lodge, Francine Prose, Richard Russo and Jane Smiley, Department of Death is Lev Raphael’s most blistering satire yet of the current perversity of academic life.


Raphael makes the most of the academic setting of his immensely enjoyable 10th mystery featuring Nick Hoffman, a literature professor at the State University of Michigan (after 2019’s State University of Murder). After reluctantly accepting an administrative position as the interim chair of the English and Creative Writing Department, Nick must deal with petty faculty rivalries and with an associate chair who proposes that students read digital texts instead of printed texts (“Digital reading puts readers in control and defies the patriarchy”). Late one night, Nick gets a call from associate dean Boris Hernandez, who wants Nick to meet him at his office right away to discuss an urgent matter. When Nick and his partner, Stefan Borowski, SUM’s writer-in-residence, get to Boris’s office, they find him slumped over his desk with a bloody head wound. This latest murder validates Nick’s fiefdom’s nickname of the Department of Death, and Nick and Stefan once again hit the sleuthing trail. Raphael’s witty prose enhances a crafty plot. Fans of Robert Barnard and Jane Langton will be pleased. – PUblishers Weekly

Lev Raphael skewers academic pretensions with wicked glee [and] Dickensian flair. —Chicago Sun-Times

Lev Raphael combines stylish literary mystery with an intimate look at the jungle of academia…witty, impeccably written. —The Mystery Review

About the Author

Lev Raphael is the author of twenty-six books in genres from memoir to mystery. His work has been translated into over a dozen languages and he’s also the author of hundreds of short stories, essays, and blogs. Raphael was a longtime reviewer of crime fiction for the Detroit Free Press, a guest reviewer on Michigan Radio and other public radio shows, and hosted his own talk show where he interviewed authors like Salman Rushdie and Julian Barnes. He lives in Michigan with his longtime spouse

Visit Lev Raphael’s Blog
Writing Across Genres

  • Publisher : Perseverance Press (April 9, 2021)
  • Language : English
  • Paperback : 256 pages
  • ISBN-10 : 1564746194
  • ISBN-13 : 978-1564746191

Available from

Barnes & Noble