When I opened the package from my friends at Macmillan Australia, the blurb of The Professor intrigued me immediately. A university student is found dead in his apartment, an apparent suicide, and his German professor is questioned about a suspected teacher-student relationship turned sour. A disgraced former detective receives a call from her mother, a university professor, begging her to clear a colleagues’ name.
What’s so intriguing about that? Well, firstly, the gender of the titular professor isn’t immediately revealed. I thought we could be in for some fun with some evil gays. And secondly, the author bio inside the cover says that Nossett has a PhD in German literature, and we all know a ring of authenticity can make a big difference in a mystery-thriller.
The Professor makes good on the blurb about 50% of the time. The titular professor is a woman, so the story doesn’t really lend itself to a queer reading, but it definitely feels a lot more realistic than most dark academia novels I’ve read. As Nossett says in her Acknowledgements: “This story is as much a mystery as it is a novel about campus life, professor burnout, and student-professor relationships.”
I didn’t realise until a few chapters in that The Professor is actually a follow-up novel to last year’s The Resemblance. I feel like Nossett gives enough context and background to follow along, but I know most readers would prefer to start at the beginning – so there’s your heads up.
I loved the Athens, Georgia setting – an unconventional choice for dark academia mystery-thrillers – and the carefully crafted prose. I got strong Tana French vibes, so it would be the perfect pick for fans of her novels. There are plenty of twists and turns, and the last 50 pages absolutely bulldozed my expectations. The Professor is a great read, and I’ll be on the lookout for more by Nessott.
Buy The Professor on Booktopia here. (affiliate link)