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New mystery novel explores police militarization in a Michigan college town

Jan 13, 2015

Credit Lev Raphael

Peace and quiet is in short supply for Nick Hoffman, the composition professor at the fictional "State University of Michigan," in the town of Michiganapolis. A mind-blowing encounter with the local police starts the action in the latest book from writer Lev Raphael.

Raphael has now written 25 books in many different genres. His latest, Assault with a Deadly Lie, is the eighth installment of his Nick Hoffman Mysteries.

Lev Raphael also teaches creative writing, popular literature and Jewish-American literature at Michigan State University.

Raphael describes Assault with a Deadly Lie as more than a traditional mystery novel, but rather a novel of suspense with intriguing and horrible events piling up on Nick that lead to an explosive ending.

Like many writers, Raphael's past has greatly influenced much of his work. As the son of Holocaust survivors he says his parents instilled in him an awareness of social injustice and Assault with a Deadly Lie incorporates these values. The book's title character deals with being a minority as an openly gay college professor.

The novel begins with a swat team raiding Nick and his partner's home, leading readers to question and contemplate the amount of police militarization. Raphael further addresses the importance of this issue in a piece he wrote for the Huffington Post in the wake of the Eric Garner grand jury decision.

Assault with a Deadly Lie is written in the first person perspective, allowing Raphael to envision and take on someone else's persona. While the author and character share many similarities - both moved to Michigan from the East Coast, and both teach at Michigan colleges - Raphael says he is much calmer than his character. His life is not quite as eventful and thrilling as what Nick Hoffman gets himself entangled in.