George Riam is a college dean.
The hero of this two-book spy/mystery series set in New England and written in the early to mid 60’s is an aging former professor who is now the Dean of Science at the prestigious Eastern Technology Institute located in Cambridge along the scenic Charles River .
At 61, Riam is a tall lanky man said to have a mane of white. While his colleagues and friends call him George, to the student body that held him in great esteem, he is known affectionately as ‘Rye’. He has been at the university for much of his academic life, first as a professor and a skilled and honored researcher and later as the head of the Science department responsible for teaching and for numerous research projects. Moreover he is also the second in command at the college and a close friend of the university president.
Highly intelligent and immensely curious, he nevertheless surprises even himself when in the adventure depicted in the first book he decides to take on the role of investigator and detective even though he knew he knew nothing of the mechanics except they did not follow any of the laws of science as he used to. The second adventure also requires him to leave the ivy halls and go up against people who will stop at nothing to get what they want and again he does so willingly but not really believing he is at it again.
One interesting aspect to the series is the way that Dean Riam goes about his investigations. As a scientist and a researcher, he is meticulous. At times he appears somewhat plodding to those dealing with him but it is only because they have not answered the questions he has asked – they just think they have.
A very simple example has Riam asking of a innkeeper if he had seen a missing man leave. The respondent answered that of course the man left since he was obviously not around anymore. “So you saw him leave?” Riam would ask again and again the answerer would say something like “if he didn’t leave, man, then where is he?” Riam would not lose his temper but he would not give up until the man said definitely that he had not physically seen the departure. To the guy being asked the questions, Riam was obviously dim-witted or liked being annoying. To Riam the researcher, though, if no one actually saw the departure, any statements about when and how and why were pure speculation and had no bearing in the investigation.
Riam does not see himself as anything other than the scientist and scholar that he is and he has no intentions of being anything else. Something else that he is, though, is a survivor.