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Dr. Clyde Renner, professor of geology, chair of the department, world renowned expert on volcanoes and earthquakes, and intellectual giant, is dead, apparently of a heart attack, alone in his insect-infested house. Leonard Branch, campus cop at Renner’s small liberal arts college in Iowa, is convinced there’s more to Renner’s demise than appears on the death certificate. Gideon Marshall, paleontologist, now acting chair, plays host to a parade of characters, including Ranner’s bullied secretary and accountant, a belligerent female prof, an untenured young scientist and his hot-headed coed paramour, her wealthy helicopter parent, Renner’s estranged gay son and his computer geek husband, and the college president; all are involved in various ways with Clyde Renner’s distinguished career and all have a stake in the autopsy results. In the end, Marshall accepts the fact that he’s probably discovered not only the perfect murder, but also ideal weapons of mass destruction.