Dr. Roland Waterson, a tenure candidate at Hamlet College, has lost his only child, his marriage has soured and a buzz about lady friends doesn't help. A quiet pause would suit him fine.
Then Karen Dent, a former student, is found dead, and there are stories about Utah Station, a truck stop where wayward coeds seek adventure. The professor rises to her defense and is soon up to his essays in flak from puritanical deans. His mentor Archie Speare and Bailey Jean Miles, a crime reporter, throw him lifelines. Their sleuthing leads to fraudulent death certificates, an academic cabal cavorting in Bishop Skylark's holy retreat and communion rituals dating to Christopher Marlowe and Sir Walter Raleigh.
THE HAMLET INVESTIGATION is a mystery novel reminiscent of John Gregory Dunne's TRUE CONFESSIONS, which unravels police and church scandals. HAMLET, which is set against the backdrop of the Clinton impeachment trial, unmasks corrupt college administrators and their cronies in funeral operations and medical practices, a pack of hypocrites and jackals whose rottenness overtakes the fundamentalist campus of Hamlet College located in Helsingor, California.
HAMLET is the story of Roland Waterson, a bumbling and accidental gadfly who does what he must and finds himself in the middle of business not his own. Some would call this Hell.
Back to the buzz about lady friends. This is serious stuff and as one might expect, it haunts Waterson and bedevils his prospects for winning tenure. The national climate doesn't help either, what with the GOP breathing down the neck of President Clinton. Thus our professor struggles with a very real background nightmare....
TELEVISION was alive with incendiaries. Monica Lewinsky was on the verge of bringing down the president. Old footage of a receiving line was run in slow motion and there they were, lovers caught in a hug.
Purveyors of racy stories abounded, their paroxysms of delight sounding like the dreaded whooping cough--who, who, who, who.
Jack Laughlin, the married Jesuit, chortled and barely allowed Pat Cannon, the former Nixon speechwriter, to pontificate about our nation sinking into the sunset. The panel's collection of frat boys leered, snickered and insisted this was not about sex. No, this was about subornation of witnesses, perjury and bribery, hardcore enough to rouse folks from Peoria to the Potomac.
And everywhere was the cherubic Mister Starr, a Cupid with spectacles resting on cheeks of baby fat.
If Laughlin and his guy panel weren't who whoing enough, there were Cokie, Sam and the severe George arranging their ABC blocks, spelling OUTRAGE for those too slow to catch their import. On NBC Tim Russert huffed and puffed, bringing Clinton's White House to the verge of collapse. And out came the most terrible of condemnators, Fitzwilliam Barnett, so swollen with indignation he seemed fit to explode.
"Sin," said Sir Jack. "Bimbos! bimbos! bimbos!" cried brother Cannon. "How must we tell our children?" wondered Cokie, Sam and George. "Lord, help our image," pleaded the host of Meet the Press. "Decency!" bellowed Barnett, the BOOK OF MORALS crusader.
Olden Gingpoor, a congressional leader in the impeachment proceedings, met the press and, wife at his side, declared, "I speak for all politicians when I say not a day will go by that I fail to condemn our president's behavior. We simply cannot tolerate such conduct." [Back at the Watergate his paramour, a government intern, dried her nails and smiled in wonderment....]
And so it was with Roland Waterson and that buzz about lady friends. Would he, too, be found out--and called out? Voices, as with the president, rising from everywhere and demanding his dismissal? The threat seemed real enough, the signs already on the horizon.