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C'ville takes center stage in alumus' book

It's always nice to see an alumnus make it big.

1975 Commerce School graduate Bob Levy is a clothier by trade with a penchant and love for writing. He works as a retailer for his great grand-daddy's specialty clothing store, Oak Hall, in Memphis, Tenn. But his life as a businessman is not Levy's claim to fame.

Instead, the University alumnus has made a name for himself with his Sept. 18 debut into the book world with the release of his first suspense novel "Broken Hearts."

The University has provided the author with more than an educational foundation. In fact, Levy uses the Charlottesville area as the stage for much of his book's plot, and the protagonist, David Lancaster, takes form as a malevolent third-year Law student.

"They always say, 'Write what you know,' and I knew Charlottesville from my college days," Levy said.

The novel's plot begins with a series of 10 murders, spanning from Virginia to Tennessee, all of which take place in or around theaters in 1957. The Charlottesville murder took place just outside the Jefferson Theater on what is now the Downtown Mall. Detective Joe O'Riley nabs the murderous perpetrator, who is put on trial, found guilty and electrocuted for the crimes. All this, but not before claiming O'Riley's wife for his last victim.

More than 30 years later, Lancaster plays copycat and goes on a similar killing binge in virtually the same places. He, like the sick mastermind before him, flees to Memphis. O'Riley, who had retired, comes back to the force with hopes of outsmarting Lancaster.

Part of the challenge of writing the book "was finding theaters that existed in each city in 1957 and today," Levy said.

Levy has received numerous accolades for his work. The book topped the Memphis best-seller list for more than three weeks and Charlottesville local John Grisham wrote him a letter dubbing the book "a delightful tale of suspense and mystery." Grisham's review is also posted on

In addition, scrawled on a leaf of official White House stationery is a hand-written message from President Clinton.

"I read it on my [July] trip to Okinawa," he wrote. "I could barely put it down."

Levy refered to the book and his authorship as a "clothier mixing fashion, fiction and forensics." But the description is rather accurate, and readers will find ample evidence of this and his relationship to Virginia throughout the book.

"There are a lot of little hooks for the Charlottesville community," he added

Although this is not Levy's first publication, it is his first novel. He previously wrote a Roman history/short story collection "From the Coin's Point of View," and he now is working on his second novel.

Levy will sign books tonight from 5:00-7:00 p.m. at the Barnes & Noble on Barracks Road. He will stay after the signing to answer questions for the Virginia Writer's Club, and encourages aspiring University writers to attend.


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