Rape. Murder. Lies. GW. Where can you find all four?
Each of those terms takes center stage in Associate Professor Emeritus Charles Toftoy’s new novel, “It’s in the Eyes.” After teaching for 17 years at GW’s School of Business, Toftoy, who colleagues and students refer to as “Dr. T,” spent the past seven years writing the novel, a fiction thriller that recently hit Amazon’s digital bookshelf.
Toftoy said the book was inspired in part by one of his former GW students, Nicole Paul, who was brutally raped and murdered in her apartment in June of 1994.
“I wanted to do something in memory of her, so the first page of the book is a dedication in memory of Nicole,” Toftoy said. “This book is inspired by true events.”
The book is based around the mystery of the murders of a number of college co-eds from D.C.-area schools including Georgetown and GW, and much of the action of the novel takes place in and around town, including at sites across the GW campus.
“I think that what readers will like is that they’ll recognize a lot of the places in the book where I use real names, like the GW Deli or the Vietnam Memorial,” Toftoy said. “People will say ‘I know that, I’ve been there.'”
At the center of it all is a GW business professor and self-proclaimed “sleuth” who spends much of his time trying to solve the murder mysteries.
“The main character is a well-decorated Vietnam veteran and business professor at GW,” Toftoy said.
When writing the book, Toftoy said he looked to his own experiences in Vietnam and as a professor to add a back story for the main character.
“I went through probably 30 firefights in Vietnam and some very heavy, traumatic situations,” Toftoy said. “When I read the flashbacks the character has to Vietnam, I get a little bit of a raised heartbeat.”
As his first novel, Toftoy said departing from traditional academic writing style was a challenge that he embraced.
“It’s very different than writing an academic textbook, which I have done in the past,” Toftoy said. “In this book, I write the way people talk in real life, and I’ve been struggling with capturing the way people talk.”
The book, which is currently available online at Amazon and is slated to hit the GW Bookstore sometime later this year, was written in part to engage the GW community.
“There’s a lot of lessons learned that come out of this book, and I think that because it has GW in it that it’s interesting for faculty, students, staff and alumni to read,” Toftoy said. “The professor in the book is really proud of teaching and tells it like it is.”