But Michael Keating is alive and well to tell the tale. The Aberdeen University professor has been revealed as the real-life inspiration behind the victim of a hit new murder mystery published in Catalonia.
The whodunnit, the Girl from Aberdeen by Quim Aranda, is attracting rave reviews from Catalans increasingly captivated by Scotland's big vote in September and their own plans for a similar referendum shortly afterwards.
Mr Keating's alter-ego, Paul McEwan, is found dead at the beginning of the book. Like Mr Keating, the character taught at Barcelona's Autonomous University and was an expert in Scottish, Quebec and Catalan nationalist movements. Unlike Mr Keating, he was also having an affair with a young PhD student - the "Girl from Aberdeen".
"The author has signed my copy: 'to my main victim'," Mr Keating said. "I was indeed a visiting professor at the Autónoma but have assured my wife that the bit about the affair with the student is a mere literary conceit."