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Hot Rocks (Nick Hoffman Mysteries Book 7) Kindle Edition

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Length: 217 pages Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled Series: Nick Hoffman Mysteries (Book 7)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

At the start of Raphael's entertaining seventh Nick Hoffman mystery (after 2004's Tropic of Murder), the State University of Michigan English professor stumbles on a corpse in a steam room—Vlado Zamaria, the ruthless head trainer at the Michigan Muscle health club. Nick and his pal, Juno Dromgoole, team up once again to ferret out the killer, for whom there's no shortage of suspects: Vlado's bland, dutiful wife plus a plethora of actual and wanna-be lovers and jealous trainers. Nick manages a too-easy sneak peek into Zamaria's unlocked office, finding secrets that eventually reveal the murderer. He half-seriously considers becoming a private eye, much to the chagrin of his lover, Stefan Borowski, who has been stewing in his own troubles. The many amusing and eclectic literary references that alternate with salacious gossip and humorous philosophical rants partially compensate for the novel's lack of tension and action. (Apr.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Raphael's series hero, Nick Hoffman, is in midlife crisis when he and partner Stefan Borowski return from their Caribbean vacation (marred by murder, of course; see Tropic of Murder, 2004) to resume teaching at the State University of Michigan. Nick's musings over getting older halt abruptly when he realizes that his companion in the health-club steam room is head trainer and all-around stud Vlado Zamario, and he's dead. Before you can say "smoldering temptress," series regular Professor Juno Dromgoole is on the scene, spreading the news that it's murder and proposing to solve it with Nick, the obvious suspect because of his previous involvements with homicide. Given Vlado's encounters with the women at Michigan Muscle, the plot quickly and deliciously thickens into layers of domestic discord highly seasoned with compromising photos. Raphael's latest smoothly delivers a satisfying mystery while providing insight into the middle-aging of America, gay marriage, the excitement of sleuthing as a means of exercising control over our lives, the "Orwellian" Patriot Act, and more. Whitney Scott
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

Product Details


More About the Author

Lev Raphael has wanted to be an author since he was in second grade, and he's not only achieved his dream, he's published twenty-five books in genres from memoir to mystery to Jane Austen Mashup; had his books translated into nearly a dozen languages; appeared in two documentaries; won various prizes; done hundreds of invited talks and readings on three different continents; recently sold his literary papers (92 boxes!) to the Michigan State University Libraries (MSUL); been the subject of scholarly articles, papers and book chapters; and seen his work taught at colleges and universities around the country. Which means he's become homework. Who knew?

Born and raised in New York, he got over it and has spent half his life in Michigan. He's a pioneer in writing about children of Holocaust survivors, which he's been doing since 1978, longer than almost any other American author. He frequently tours with his books (check http://www.levraphael.com for his current schedule) and is currently touring with My Germany, a memoir/travelogue exploring the role Germany has played in his family, his life, and his career.

After he escaped academia to write full-time, he reviewed extensively for over a decade for the Detroit Free Press, Michigan Radio, The Washington Post, Jerusalem Report, The Ft. Worth Star-Telegram, Forward, Boston Review, and Lambda Book Report. He now reviews for Bibliobuffet.com and WKAR 90.5 FM/East Lansing Public Radio, and when he's not busy, he sometimes imagines some graduate student years from now in the MSUL archives puzzling over his handwriting.

A seasoned reader of his own work, with a background in theater and teaching, he loves the performance aspect of touring, as well as meeting people he'd never meet back home. And the sightseeing. And the foreign foods. For photos from his previous German book tours, go to http://www.levraphael.com/europe_photos.html.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Fisher Stevens on September 23, 2007
Format: Paperback
I had never read any Nick Hoffman story - nor anything, in fact, by Mr. Raphael - so it was with some apprehension that I picked up Hot Rocks. My fears were quickly put to rest: it's a welcoming introduction to the series for anyone, irrespective of their familiarity with Hoffman, Raphael, the State University of Michigan, Michigan Muscle or any of the other wickedly satirical devices Raphael uses. It's terribly funny and the mystery itself holds together and keeps your attention throughout. I plan on reading more by Raphael based on my enjoyment of this book.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Readingbunny on May 31, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is a page turner! If you have spent any time at all in a health club, you will easily identify these "gym" types and the unique atmosphere that a health club/gym creates. I found the book to be very creative, amusing, and a twist as the mystery is solved makes it all the more enjoyable.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Satisfied Lone Wolf on June 9, 2008
Format: Paperback
Ah, how I wanted to find another gay sleuth. Since Fred Hunter and his series will no more be as Fred has passed on, this series gives me just what I need. Nick, Juno and Stephan are quite a combo, and since this is my first read in the series, I am sure this book is no exception.

As other reviewers have stated, the murder takes place in a upscale Health Club steam room, and the victom, Vlado, is one of the most popular of the personal trainers at the club. Nick and his bizarre, Divine Miss Juno character take their romp through the steeets of this Michigan burb to find the guilt, and in the process discover much about their own personal demons. But the ride is fun, light fare, and a perfect book for the beach and a cool drink.

But what makes this such a wonderful read is Raphael's view of society, especially as it relates to social doctrine, religious hypocrisy and relationship turmoil. This is a quick read, and you will want to go immediately and get another Hoffman installment.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Jill Meyer TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on May 24, 2007
Format: Paperback
...and usually think they're each a good, solid, 4 star.

His new one, Hot Rocks, is the best in terms of writing. Don't know what the slight difference is between this one and his previous books, but it's something.

I also enjoy his comments on the Salon website. Always to-the-point.

Anyway, enjoy his latest novel.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Kim Geiger on April 12, 2008
Format: Paperback
Hot Rocks is a laugh-out-loud murder mystery. I'm not even a fan of the genre, at all, but I loved this book. You'll feel very smart if you get all the references, a pleasant aspect of reading this novel.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Tom B on March 12, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Lev Raphael expands his Nick Hoffman series with another winner. With his partner's angst and his own unresolved emotional and professional issues as a backdrop, we are treated to another murder mystery in the college town of Michiganopolis. Hunky trainers, sex and local politics all come in to play, but that's all I'm going to say about it. The story builds with a great plot outline, excellent back story and realistic characters. And, along with a riveting style, when so many authors have "dumbed down" their writing, Lev Raphael can still send me to the dictionary. You definitely want to add this to your reading list.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By T. M. Pruitt on March 25, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is one of the most enjoyable gay mysteries I've read in the past year. Nick Hoffman, an associate professor at a state university in Michigan, discovers a dead trainer in the steam room at Michigan Muscle, a cross between an old-school exclusive men's (now co-ed) athletic club and a Bally's or Gold's. Between Nick's past proximity to crimes and prodding from his friend Juno, Nick finds himself involved in the investigation, and ultimately solves the mystery.

What I enjoyed most about the novel is its portrayal of the protagonist and his partner as a well-adjusted, established gay couple--who happen to be in slightly extraordinary circumstances. Nick and Stefan are both in their late 30s / near 40, have been together for several years, and they are more focused on advancing their careers and continuing to build up their home. The dramas of youth, social status, and romance are behind them -- mostly.

Too often in contemporary mystery novels with a gay protagonist, the author seems to fall into the trap of using a (straight) romance fiction trope: the weak, insecure, but bright narrator (aka damsel in distress) and a strong, stoic romantic interest (aka knight in shining armor). Thankfully, Lev doesn't do that -- he gives Nick and Stefan much greater parity. They both have strengths and weaknesses, and they come across as a believable couple in real life. They are humans, not myth.

Even Juno, Nick's brassy partner in crime, gained my respect. Early in the novel she struck me as too diva, too queen bee, to be sympathetic. But around halfway through the book I found myself rooting for her.

If there's one critique I have, it's that the mystery could have used more urgency; Nick didn't have enough at stake personally (either through physical or reputational threat). This is a minor critique though on what is otherwise a very enjoyable read.

Looking forward to reading the previous books in the series.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By bill m on April 27, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I see that other reviews of this mystery novel are more contemporary to its original publication, so perhaps this one is only appropriate for Kindle readers who will be enticed to buy and read this wonderful story, as well as other Lev Raphael works that are e-published. There is a beautifully constructed mystery that is central to this book embellished with erudite and sophisticated writing, interesting characterizations and wonderful dialogue - all are the product of a well-read and well-written author with real literary chops. This is the first Nick Hoffman story that I've read but after this one I - and most other readers who are introduced to the series, or the author, by this one - will cash in on their amazing discovery and devour the others in the series. The only fault one can find with this story is that it seems to be the Edwin Drood of the Hoffman stories - unless there is a further installment (which one of the early reviews indicates isn't happening) the reader is left wondering about what happens to an "awakening" of Hoffman's domestic partner, a Jew who was nominally raised a Catholic, angrily turns back to his roots and then, as this story ends, pirouettes back to investigate christianity. In an era where people are using the internet to learn who they are, or might have been, that's one of the most interesting aspects of this story -- too bad that it's left hanging at the end without a promise of resolution. Otherwise this story is almost perfect in every way.
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