Ivory Tower is a campus thriller about Margolis Santos, a charismatic film professor in her prime, who risks her career and life to uncover sexual corruption inside her university’s football program where rich boosters pay sorority girls to have sex with star recruits. When we find Margolis, she’s embroiled in a sex scandal of her own that sends her life into a tailspin. She unthinkingly sleeps with a student from another school, and when the parents find out, they threaten to sue her university. To protect its reputation, the ambitious university president, Art ‘Lightning’ Lane, decides to fire her. As she fights for her job, Margolis slowly learns from her 17-year-old daughter, Brie, and crackerjack senior, Emma Barnes, what is happening in the Theta sorority house. Billionaire football donor, Chet Orchard, is orchestrating there a new recruiting scheme where Theta sisters ‘date’ potential players with the expectation of sexual favors. Margolis is desperate to put a stop to the sexual exploitation and violence. The trouble is, her husband, Frank Sinoro, is the head football coach, while her daughter loves the sorority, so she has to make a choice. Margolis has to find a way to protect her family, while also saving the women on campus and, eventually, her own soul.
Professor Margolis Santos, the protagonist of this intriguing, smoothly written first novel from scholar Jenkins (Poetic Obligation: Ethics in Experimental American Poetry After 1945), teaches cinema studies at Athens University. Located in the Deep South, the university is proud of its football team and demands that it win at all costs. That Margolis's soon-to-be-ex-husband, Frank, coaches the team has put increasing pressure on their deteriorating relationship. Meanwhile, Margolis faces possible dismissal because of an affair with a student from a local junior college. As she digs in to fight to save her job, she stumbles on a much larger and more insidious network of corruption and vice. Margolis becomes the target of a powerful group of ruthless men who will stop at nothing to maintain their position. The linear narration slips easily into and out of a cinematic script version of the action and enlightening excerpts from Margolis's lectures on film structure. These tricks enhance the characterization and plot as well as lend a pleasing rhythm to the book. Jenkins has made an impressive start as a novelist. (Self-published)