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Hot Rocks (Nick Hoffman Mysteries Book 7) by [Raphael, Lev]
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Hot Rocks (Nick Hoffman Mysteries Book 7) Kindle Edition

4.4 out of 5 stars 21 customer reviews

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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

  • File Size: 4453 KB
  • Print Length: 217 pages
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
  • Publisher: Lev Raphael (April 1, 2012)
  • Publication Date: April 1, 2012
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B007R8H4PM
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #877,756 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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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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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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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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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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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