Simsbury College lacrosse star Mark Jessey looks on the members of the Sigma fraternity as his only true family. But when a Sigma freshman turns up dead, Mark is forced to question his deepest loyalties.
First novelist Kean's overlong tale of a pervasive, sinister college fraternity fails to thrill, and offers few other virtues. When freshman pledge Chad Ewing is found bloodied and dying after a hazing party for Sigma, the most prestigious frat on the campus of Maine's Simsbury College, scandal threatens the unsullied reputation of the elite school. Kean's hero, Mark Jessy--a Simsbury senior, a former Sigma, a Native American and an all-American lacrosse star--lives under a cloud: accused of date rape two years before, Mark had escaped expulsion, but was forced to disaffiliate from his fraternity. Moreover (in a "punishment" no more implausible than Kean's other plot twists), Mark was named to serve on the college's student disciplinary tribunal, the D-Squad. Now Ewing's death threatens to bring Sigma's leaders before the D-Squad, charged with a fatal hazing, but penalties against the fraternity might expose Sigma's conspiracy of powerful, rich alumni, which even controls the FBI. The unscrupulous dean attempts an elaborate coverup, but the loose ends refuse to stay concealed. As a former Sigma brother himself, Mark could help prove the frat's crimes--if he discovers them, which Sigma isn't about to let him do. Mark's girlfriend and fellow D-Squad member, lovely blonde ski-champion Shawn Jakes, must convince him to help her investigate. As their fears of discovery escalate, Sigma's partisans resort to violence, and a narrative that began with a campus imbroglio ends with a string of combats and hot pursuits. Kean, a 28-year-old former frat brother at Bowdoin College in Maine, loses control of his narrative as it moves forward, letting subplots proliferate. Between the treatment of trumped-up date-rape charges and the running jokes at the expense of the Simsbury Women's Association, a group of caricatured females with a strident antimale agenda, readers familiar with the campus debates on which Kean's story draws may find him less antifrat than antifeminist. Only the gossipy sketches of collegiate life make this disjointed, clich -ridden novel somewhat entertaining. (Aug.) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.