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Sunday, September 13, 2009

Review: The Spire by Richard North Patterson

In Richard North Patterson's book, The Spire, Mark Darrow grew up in small town Ohio, with an alcoholic and absent father and a mentally ill mother. Being blessed with intelligence and athletic ability, Mark was lucky to cross paths with Lionel Farr, a professor at the local college. This chance meeting gave Mark entry into a world he’d only dreamed of. With a scholarship to the college and the encouragement of his mentor, Mark became a brilliant student and a successful attorney.

Now Farr has come to Boston to ask his former student and protégé, for a favor. Caldwell College, Mark’s alma mater is in the midst of a financial scandal with charges of embezzlement that threaten to close the college. Farr asks Mark to return to the college as the president and help repair the damage. Mark accepts the offer and returns to his hometown.

Sixteen years before, late one night after celebrating his triumph as the star quarterback for Caldwell College, Mark discovered the strangled body of a young black coed, Angela Hall. Subsequently, his best friend, Steve Tillman was charged and convicted of Angela’s murder and sentenced to life in prison. Returning to Caldwell has brought all this back to Mark and he finds himself compelled to revisit the case, and in doing so finds that there are still many unanswered questions about the murder. When another murder happens, he realizes that Angela’s murderer is still at large and is feeling threatened by Mark’s inquiries.

I think I’ve been living under a rock, I’ve never read anything by Richard North Patterson before. And I know I’ll be looking for more books by him. Patterson’s way of plotting the storyline was excellent. I had an inkling about 2/3 of the way through the book on who the murderer really was, and even though I ended up being right, I really liked the way the author lead the protagonist to the moment of discovery. It was very subtle and I found myself thinking, “C’mon, Mark, pay attention…it’s *****” (I don’t want to give it away, hence the ****) And Mark did pay attention, it a carefully nuanced fashion, not so slowly as to make this reader yell at the book, “Mark…. you’re stupid…. focus Pinky, focus…”, but quietly, steadily and effectively. It was so effective, that even though I swore I knew “whodunit”, I still had niggling thoughts I might be wrong. And that’s a great writing ability, to pull in the reader, make us think we know what’s going on, and yet still keep us guessing until the very end.

The Spire by Richard North Patterson is a terrific read that I don’t hesitate to recommend.

My rating:

3 comments:

bermudaonion said...

I haven't read the spire but I do enjoy Richard North Patterson's work. It does sound like you've been living under a rock! LOL

Laughing Stars said...

I've never read this author either -- maybe your address and mine are under the same rock. ;-) Thanks for the great review. This definitely sounds intriguing.

Ladytink_534 said...

I haven't heard of this author before either. Sounds like an interesting read though.