When author Jon Kasey left Lagos in Nigeria for university in Germany, the 27-year-old expected only to be fully absorbed in his studies toward a degree in communication technology. Instead, while holed up in the library of the Heinrich Heine University of Dusseldorf, his life was upended by a flirtatious “designer blonde.” After rejecting her “disgusting proposal,” the African was relentlessly taunted and followed by angry Iranians who falsely accused him of having sex with Sonja Strauss, “someone else’s girl.” In fact, Kasey soon discovered she was part of an underground on-campus prostitution ring, and the scorned Sonja herself had started the rumors.
Kasey’s memoir tracks the author and his friends as they secretly tail three student prostitutes with plans to bring evidence to the attention of authorities. Simultaneously, the author interweaves a story of 24-year-old gifted student Heidi Fischer, who disappeared from campus just a few days before Sonja propositioned Kasey. Heidi’s story proves equally intriguing, as Kasey learns more details of Heidi’s hidden life, as well as her Iranian mother’s connections as a Kurdish spy while previously married to a member of the militia under Khomeini.
This fascinating, well-developed story is stranger than fiction, and the suspense and foreshadowing throughout keep the pages turning. Kasey peppers the story with interesting bits of history of DÃ¼sseldorf and its surroundings and also writes nicely descriptive scenarios. For example, when looking for clues in a poor part of town frequented by Iranians and Turks, Kasey notes that he “stuck out like Pinocchio’s nose” and was stared at “as though I was something that they wouldn’t want stuck to their shoe.”
Aside from its weak title, Another Side of the Campus? is a finely executed, top-shelf book that intrigues right to its conclusion and would be a welcome addition to any bookstore.
Also available in hardcover and ebook.