The Visiting Professor: A Novel
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A delicious post -cold war romp, The Visiting Professor is another classic page-tuner for the many fans that have come to recognize Robert Littell-thanks to The Company and its recent TNT miniseries-as a thriller writer on par with John le Carré and Alan Furst.
Lemuel Falk, "a Russian theoretical chaoticist on the lam from terrestrial chaos," has applied for permission to leave Russia every year for the past twenty-three years. Unexpectedly, his twenty-fourth request is approved and he accepts a chair as visiting professor at the Institute for Advanced Interdisciplinary Chaos-Related Studies in upstate New York. As soon as he arrives, he is plunged into another kind of chaos-an academic catfight, an affair with a much-younger hairdresser, and a dangerous serial killer.
drowsy flesh. From long experience with tribulation, he wonders when the bubble will burst and the trial will begin. The telephone in the apartment over the Rebbe’s head never stops ringing after Lemuel moves out. The Rebbe bounds up the stairs, toppling several waist-high towers of books in his eagerness to answer the phone. Introducing himself to each caller as Lemuel’s business agent, he jots down offers to endorse ecological laundry detergents or non-polluting oven cleaners. “You are
head like a disjointed nightmare, Lemuel hears a voice spiral up from his lost childhood. Tell us where your father hides his code book. Backpedaling until his back is flat against a wall, mopping perspiration from his forehead with a sleeve, he cries out, “For God’s sake, Word, where the hell are you? You are going to get yourself in deep excrement if you let an unauthorized person or persons monkey with the Institute’s chaos.” “We are not interested in the Institute’s chaos,” the shadow named
exactly the kind of information he needed rattling around in his brain. Shirley probably figured if she could keep him talking, she could keep him smoking. She passed the joint back to L. Falk and asked what information he had in mind. Still giggling, he informed us he had just about solved the serial murders. He said the lesson he had learned from the serial murders was applicable to randomness in general. He said the fact that you set out to manufacture randomness, I think I’m getting this
he feels for the key hidden over the cement lintel. When his fingers close over it he feels a surge of relief. His hand trembles as he tries to fit the key into the lock. He fills his lungs with air, steadies his right hand with his left, inserts the key and opens the door. The room is awash in the eerie light cast by the projector with the piece of mauve silk over it. Mayday, curled up on her blanket, stares at Lemuel with unblinking eyes filled with cataracts and reproach. Lemuel bends down
bottom of the stairs. “What’s with all these books?” “I’ve collected them over the years,” the Rebbe explains. “They have the name of God in them.” He swallows hard. “It’s against Jewish law to destroy a book containing the name of God.” “If we have to,” Doolittle vows, “we’ll examine every book in the house.” “It will take days,” the Rebbe says hopefully. “Time,” Mitchell announces, shaking a book by its spine, “is what we have on our hands.” Doolittle motions for the agents to start