Picks and Pans Review: A Darker Shade of Crimson

updated 04/06/1998 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 04/06/1998 AT 01:00 AM EDT

by Pamela Thomas-Graham

Page-Turner of the Week

"BEING YOUNG AND BLACK AT HARVARD requires advanced survival skills. Seven generations of us have found it exhilarating, perplexing, difficult and dangerous. For Rosezella Maynette Fisher, it was murder." So says Nikki Chase, the university's only African-American economics professor and the protagonist of this fast and funny debut whodunit. When Nikki runs the numbers on the death of her friend, Harvard Law School administrator Fisher, she finds malfeasance at a post Ph.D. level. There's a blackmailing ex-husband still stuck in the '60s and a patrician department head with his fingers in the till. Even the school's president is a suspect. With A+ insights into the churlish world of academic politics and keen observations on middle-class race relations, Crimson graduates with honors. Author Pamela Thomas-Graham, a partner at an international consulting firm, will be taking on the whole Ivy League, it seems: Her next mystery-in-progress is set at Yale. (Simon & Schuster, $23)

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