Orange Crushed
By Roberta Austin
Jan 1, 2006 - 5:49:00 AM

Nikki Chase has worked hard to get ahead in the competitive world of academia. At thirty she is an economics professor at Harvard and hoping to gain coveted tenure and become the first African-American woman to do so in her department. Recently, her involvement in solving some serious crimes has gotten her unwanted attention.

Nikki decides a weekend conference at Princeton may be just the thing to help her get back on track. It will also be fun to have some time to talk with her former mentor professor Earl Stokes. There are rumors Stokes may be leaving Princeton and heading to Harvard. When Stoke's body is found after a fire in the uncompleted black studies building, Nikki is devastated. She does not want to believe that the death was accidental. Nikki's amateur sleuthing uncovers more than she ever imagined and may put her in peril.
ORANGE CRUSHED is the third in the Ivy League Mystery series by Ms. Thomas-Graham. I have not read the two previous novels, BLUE BLOOD or A DARKER SHADE OF CRIMSON, but the author's vivid descriptions and background help ORANGE CRUSHED stand well on its own. 
The author's academic background at Harvard give the whole novel a genuine glow. The hard-hitting dialog not only moves the plot forward, but addresses many controversial issues that touch us all no matter what our ethnic background may be.
Heroine Nikki Chase is extremely engaging with her mixture of intelligence and love of life.  Through her the reader gets an insider's look at the trials and triumphs of life in the Ivy League. While mystery, politics and family secrets are the main emphasis of this compelling story, there is a thread of romance worked in. Nikki has a subtle,though apparently  passionate relationship, with the handsome Dante Rosario. This relationship seems to be an off and on type. I will need to go back and read the previous novels to learn more and recommend the reader do so, too.
The promotional material says ORANGE CRUSHED has been optioned for a film. I hope it makes it to production because the plot will translate well to a visual medium and be something both sexes can enjoy. In the meantime, go buy this book, which I promise is both entertaining and thought provoking.

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