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The Cutthroat World Of Academia

by Jon Matthew Farber

About the Author: Jon Matthew Farber has publications in Ellery Queen and Black Cat Mystery Magazines, among others.


They found Professor Stewart with a clean, perfectly horizontal, incision in his neck, clutching a cell phone in his hand.

Normally, when a dean at a university dies, the adjective perhaps most often used to describe him is ‘beloved.’ This was categorically not the case with Stewart. The kindest word anyone volunteered for him was curmudgeonly; most used much more derogatory epithets. His reputation was, it must be admitted, well-deserved. Comments about him would usually have qualified as slander, were it not for the fact that they were true.

Detective Natasha Crosby was assigned the case. The situation was fairly straightforward. The victim had been found near his apartment. He had been killed while walking home, after teaching an evening class. According to the ME, he had bled to death, the whole process taking perhaps one to two minutes. There were no witnesses, no weapon was found, and there were no clues except for the phone with its enigmatic message.

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