A Slow Cold Death, by Susy Gage - Book Review
Susy Gage‘s book, “A Slow Cold Death”, is not a science text or a book directly about popular science. It’s a murder mystery set in the physics department of a university in California. Gage portrays the department and its members with such realism that I researched whether such murders happening in the novel actually happened in real life. (They didn’t.) If you have ever been involved with a research institute, even only a little bit, you will likely recognize the different characters in the book.
If not, Gage’s book gives you a vivid idea of what a typical physics department looks like. The story covers the facilities, professors, employees, students, formalities, tasks, goals, prejudices, work, everyday problems, research, and grant applications. University life has its own culture with a special set of people and habits, which is depicted very well in this book. Gage also introduces the reader to a typical academic life and career. This consists of working at different places around the world for only a few years at a time, having friends who move far away because of their academic work, not settling down, and the excruciating waiting and hoping for a permanent position. For someone interested in this aspect of the academy, the book is a very interesting read.
The story itself is not the most exciting plot I’ve ever read, but it's still okay. I disliked the fact that the main character behaved as if she was unthreatened. Also, the motive behind the murders was a little bit too simple. In a good thriller, the plot should be more complex. However, I still enjoyed the novel for its unique portrayal of an academic subculture.
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