The Harvard Skull Fiasco
When the world’s most famous skull disappears from its cabinet at Harvard Medical School, suspicion falls on the library’s IT guy, Shea, a capricious Australian who seems to suffer from pathological problems with authority.
Confronted, Shea agrees to return the stolen skull of Phineas Gage with one condition: that he first be permitted to tell the entire story behind the heist to his colleagues. What begins as a tale of daily life in the world’s most eminent medical library soon devolves into a tale of magic, alchemists, ghosts and bureaucrats of the direst variety.
This all proves deeply troubling for Wendell, a clever and amitious middle-manager who is determined to turn the skull’s disappearance to the library’s advantage. As the newly appointed Chair of the Skull Recovery Committee, Wendell knows that if he can wrest the skull back from his friend without creating an international incident, he’ll receive a very nice promotion - and an even nicer office!
Unless, of course, his boss, Octavia, gets her hands on the skull first; she plans to use the skull’s theft to discredit the new library Director, an oblivious scientist who wants to turn an entire floor of the library into a Starbucks Cafe.
Octavia’s plan, however, hinges on the cooperation of Astrid, a vivacious junior librarian who appears to be the only person at Harvard University that Shea is actually afraid of. Unfortunately for both Octavia and Wendell, Astrid is less interested in recovering the skull than finding out more more about Shea’s shadowy friend, Andre from Paris. What is his role in all of this? And why is Shea being hunted around the world by a knife-wielding maniac? What is really going on in this library, and why does it feel as if the Skull Recovery Committee has fallen into some kind of metaphysical trap?
The Harvard Skull Fiasco is a magic realist ‘caper novel’ that offers a satirical look behind-the-scenes at Harvard University. Set on the final work day before Christmas, the story is told from the perspective of Shea, a fledgling antiquities thief who is somehow convinced that the librarians would support his decision to steal the skull of Phineas Gage if they would only stop plotting against each other and listen!
Note: the cover design that can be found at this blog is not the final art; websites look better with pictures, so the author threw drew it in Illustrator one afternoon for fun. Former graphics designers do things like this.
I am currently preoccupied with writing my next book, but will be looking for a literary agent in early 2017. If any passing literary agent sees this, feel free to get in touch.