The Professor’s Assassin by Matthew Pearl is a prequel to his latest novel The Technologists. The regular reader of Pearl will know that he does not disappoint the reader looking for an engaging historical fiction novel. His short story about a professor who is determined to find out the identity of a murderer at the University of Virginia and bring him to justice is no exception. Pearl’s talent for tantalizing the reader with thrilling tales shines through once again. William Barton Rogers (later to be the founder and president of MIT) is the science professor at the University of Virginia and is startled to discover that the riots of campus “volunteers” have turned deadly. Rogers is the first to want justice when one of his colleague’s is slain in the street at the hand of a student and volunteer. With his prodigious knowledge of the area and the help of other students Rogers goes on the hunt for the person responsible so he cannot kill again.
Pearl, as in his novels, creates a character in Rogers that makes the reader want to follow him into the darkest alley to find out who has committed the crime and bring that man to justice. From the first page we, the reader, are captured and cannot leave until the thrilling end.
The short story is riveting and leaves the reader wanting more. The short story also includes sample chapters from Pearl’s upcoming novel, The Technologists, which if the sample is any indication of the rest of the novel is going to be phenomenal. Trust me readers of historical fiction, mysteries and thrillers… you will not be disappointed with The Professor’s Assassin.
“William Barton Roger’s eyes tracked the bursts of light in the darkness outside. The other men in the room kept away from the window, as though there was somewhere to hide.” (Kindle Location 33-36).
“Jack would not be so limited forever. Nor would Rogers. More choices would come-they must.” (Kindle Location 944-49)