Set in a northern college, "Death of a Writer" focuses on E. Robert Peddleton, a once promising visionary writer who, after a string of literary failures, exiles himself at the college as an unpopular professor. Meanwhile, his rival Allen Horowitz, has become quite successful in the literary world, and is visiting the campus while in the midst of a campaign for his most recent work. Once the two men were comrades who both showed promise, but at some point Peddleton has fallen short, and it has been disturbing him ever since. He is understandably gloomy when he goes to pick up Horowitz at the airport with Adi Wiltshire, a graduate student who seems enamored with the literary life. While there, Adi shows him that she is reading one of his earlier works, and in one of the most powerfully descriptive parts of the novel, he stares at it "as an amputee might stare at a severed limb". Shortly after, Horowitz arrives, and is as arrogant and brash as Peddleton fears. His vulnerability is exposed for a brief moment when Peddleton challenges his artistic value, but soon he and Wiltshire leave to attend Horowitz's lecture, leaving Peddleton alone. Instead of parking the car and joining them, Peddleton goes home and attempts suicide. Wiltshire finds him and rescues him, and soon finds himself as his caretaker as he becomes incapacitated. She discovers an unpublished novel hidden among his personal items, and with Horowitz's help, gets it published and therefore helps launch Peddleton to the fame he always craved, though now he can't enjoy it. It isn't until the book's popularity starts to rapidly climb as Wiltshire discovers that the brutal murder described by the protagonist is eerily reminiscent of an unsolved local murder that happened years ago. Did Peddleton commit the murder, and then write a fiction novel based on it? Was he an accomplice, or a witness? The similarities also catch the attention of John Ryder, a detective who has his own past to deal with as he unravels the story in and around Peddleton's book.Death of a Writer was a harrowing look into the aftermath of failure and the politics of fame, as well as a journey into philosophy and sociology as the intelligent characters justify their actions by citing literary works such as Crime and Punishment and the writings of Nietzsche. The characters are deeply flawed but sympathetic; even as Horowitz reveals himself to be selfish and condescending he displays affection to Wiltshire and admits his feelings of unworthiness to Ryder. While this book was certainly interesting and fascinating, the tone was generally bleak. So, meh.