Pecan City, Texas, is a quiet, uneventful town. Hartley Gorman is a sedate, fundamentalist college (although a dean was murdered there once—in Bill Crider's One Dead Dean). English professor Carl Burns is about to begin yet another year in such a place, with only the eccentricities of his fellow teachers to entertain him.
Even Burns, perpetual worrier that he is, envisions the worst of his problems to be the pigeons that have roosted in the attic above his office and the uninspired students that have enrolled for his classes.
But what Burns hasn't counted on is the Edward Street Seminar, a conference that Burns has been assigned to run, which honors one Edward Street, former HGC professor and, lately, Hollywood celebrity. When Street comes back to Hartley Gorman and proceeds to offend everyone in town, and then turns up dead in his motel room, there is no shortage of suspects and Burns really begins to worry!
Carl Burns, English professor at Hartlery Gorms College--a less-than-distinguished fundamentalist institution in Pecan City, Tex.--is none too pleased when college president Franklin Miller instructs him to organize a seminar for Edward Street, former faculty member and Hartley Gorms's only famous representative. A habitual pessimist, Burns quickly finds his expectations of disaster are exceeded by the reality. For Street, who has made his mark, against all likelihood, as a bestselling poet, is still remembered as poison in some parts of Pecan City and proves to be outrageously arrogant. What appears to be a public relations problem for Burns and the college turns into a real disaster when Street is murdered and Burns, who previously appeared as a bungling, but ultimately successful investigator in Crider's 1988 One Dead Dean , is himself the victim of an assault. Bloody but unbowed, the professor tracks down a totally unsuspected assassin and survives another battle by means of wily strategy. This lighthearted tale is more spoof than serious mystery. The violence is minimal, and the depiction of 10th-rate academia is both persuasive and funny.