The Rise of the Red Queen
An interesting title for this novel, as reading it you might assume the book was fantasy or YA in genre. But no such thing. It is a crime novel set in a university.
The Red Queen of the title is an academic whose rise is chronicled through the faculty management structure to being Assistant Dean in this university set high above Lake Tahoe in the Nevada Hills, and who has red hair.
She is thus commonly known as ‘Red’ and many of her colleagues see her as their born leader and that they are members of the court of her faculty.
However, not all members of the university appreciate her qualities and there is still a significant misogynistic element amongst them. Especially in the higher management echelons.
Prejudices and academic rivalry abound and are very intense and even lead here to murder and criminal behaviour.
And then there is the warped mind of one of the community who abducts a young girl. So within this story, other stories intertwine here there are mysteries and suspicious behaviours and suspicions that leave you guessing.
A note here on academic tenure in American universities (generalised).
Tenure in American universities is extremely hard to achieve.
It requires not only a PhD but a significant body of publications, grants, and conference appearances achieved; and then you have to be liked by all the members of the faculty committee that will review your record and award you tenure – or not.
Tenure, is effectively for the rest of your life. It is almost impossible to be fired, and it is very much your choice as to when you retire. Only about 2% of tenured Professors are fired each year – and then it has to be for ‘due cause’.
And: “As a tenured Professor, you are free to do your own work, your own way” (quoted in the book).
The probationary period averages three years for community colleges and seven years at four-year colleges. This is a period of employment insecurity almost unique among U.S. professions. People denied tenure at the end of this time lose their jobs; tenure is an “up-or-out” process.
During the probationary period, almost all colleges can choose not to renew faculty contracts and terminate faculty without any reason or cause. Throughout this time, senior professors and administrators evaluate the work of new faculty-teaching, research and service before deciding whether or not to recommend tenure. The most recent survey of American faculty shows that, in a typical year, about one in five probationary faculty members was denied tenure and lost his or her job.
No more than one-third of all college and university faculty members are tenured. The reason? More and more colleges are relying on part-time or temporary nontenure-track faculty to teach undergraduates — part-timers constituted about 38 percent of the professoriate in 1987 and grew to 43 percent in 1992.