Death in a Delphi Seminar

Book cover here Death in a Delphi Seminar: A Postmodern Mystery takes its readers into the arcane world of university English departments and gives them a taste of postmodernism and literary theory. In a seminar of eight students and two faculty, a woman student keels over, poisoned. The detective is a socialite who also writes plays. Together he and the professor leading the seminar explore the minds and writings of the students until they figure out the murderer. At that moment, however, another body is found, pointing to someone entirely different . . .

The shifting plot is postmodern. The book also tells its story in a postmodern way, by different kinds of narration: transcriptions of police tapes, student papers, journal writing, newspaper articles, letters. Reality is text-based. Both plot and narration play with the central mystery of our individual uniqueness and the singularity of our perceptions.

Here are some readers' responses--

"The book was such fun--riveting! How much the novel entertained & engaged me during the 2 days when I spent every free moment with my nose in its pages!" --Denise Levertov

"What a kick I got out of it!" --A. R. Gurney, Jr.

"A remarkable murder mystery in which the murder takes place in a graduate seminar on literature and psychology and the mystery is solved by the techniques of reader-response analysis . . . . Holland's novel incorporates the very kind of literary analysis that the author professes, and it introduces--as motive, as content, as clues--various other contemporary approaches to literary theory." --Theodore Ziolkowski in American Scholar

"Once I started reading Death in a Delphi Seminar, I had difficulty putting it down. Indeed, it consumed much of a weekend, and when I finished, I wanted more. The book is fascinating, completely accessible even as it deals ingeniously with the most arcane lit crit jargon (what Holland has wittily called elsewhere the language of the `New Cryptics'), and accurate in its characterization of postmodern theory. Plus it is witty, clever, ironic, allusive, sophisticated without being pretentious." --Jeffrey Berman

"This whodunit is a good read . . ." B. J. Rahn in Murder is Academic

"A `theoretical thriller'" . . "holds the reader's interest from beginning to end." --Psychoanalytic Books

Would you like to order Death in a Delphi Seminar?

The best way is from my good local bookseller, who keeps copies in stock (the hard cover is at a much lower price than the other sources below). You can e-mail your order (with credit card information to Goerings Book Center or telephone them at (352) 378-0363.

You can order direct from the publisher, SUNY Press.

Or, you could telephone SUNY Press at 1-800-666-2211, credit card in hand.

You can also order Death in a Delphi Seminar as well as other of my books directly from this page, from Amazon Books, the mammoth online bookstore.

If you have comments or suggestions, email me at

This takes you back to my home page.