Jasper College is buzzing with the news that famed literature professor Richard Aldiss will be teaching a special night class called Unraveling a Literary Mystery—from his prison cell. Twelve years ago, Aldiss was convicted of the murders of two female grad students; they were killed with axe blows and their bodies decorated with the novels of notoriously reclusive author Paul Fallows. Even the most elite, obsessive Fallows scholars have never seen him. He is like a ghost.
Now, Aldiss entreats the students of his night class to solve the Fallows riddle once and for all. He introduces them to the Procedure, a game that supposedly lets one get inside the novels themselves, book which scholars believe are maps to the author’s true identity. Soon members of the night class will be invited to play along…
Alex Shipley, now a professor at Harvard, made her name as a member of Aldiss’s night class. She not only exposed the truth of Paul Fallows’s identity, but in the process uncovered information that acquitted Aldiss of the heinous 1982 crimes. But when a fellow night class alum is murdered—the body chopped up with an axe and surrounded by Fallows novels—can she use what she knows of Fallows and the Procedure to stop a killer before each of her former classmates is picked off, one by one?
5 stars out of 5
I requested this book from the publisher as a review copy about a month before it was due out. The title and cover just grabbed me. I barely even read the synopsis before I requested it. I just knew it was something I wanted to try out.
All I can say now is WOW! What an excellent book!
But let me back up a little. My first reaction to this novel was actually luke-warm. As I was reading the introduction where we get introduced to the weird relationship between Alex and Professor Aldiss, all I could think of is “how is this any different than Clarice Starling and Hannibal Lecter?” The similarities seemed glaring to me, and I was afraid this was going to end up being just an ‘ok’ book to add to my pile.
I was so wrong. True, there is a bit of ‘quid pro quo’ about the interaction between Alex and her old professor. The similarities end there, however. This book took me from one comfortable place on the sidelines of the story, to an uncomfortable position right in the thick of it. I mean, the story starts off being told to you, but then you are dragged along, and I don’t mean that in a bad way. The book is quietly brilliant, not coming across as overly full of itself, yet bringing intelligence and a dynamic world to the page.
As classmates of the ‘secret class’ Alex took back in college start dying off, you have to wonder if Aldiss did it. Alex, however, never wonders this. She is always positive of her professor’s innocence, and by the climax of the book you have to wonder why. I mean, everything seems to point to this man being at the root of things. He started them all on this weird ‘game’ where everyone acts out parts from a book. Now it seems some of them have taken it to an extreme.
If I had to pick out one aspect of the book that wasn’t completely stellar, I’d have to say that the reclusive author Paul Fallows ended up feeling like something of a dead-end to me. It worked fine in the grand scheme of things, so it didn’t throw the book off at all. I just felt like it was less important to me, the reader, than it was intended to be. I may be wrong, of course.
The twists in this book are better than any roller-coaster and I don’t want to spoil a single bit of it. Just know that the book is dark, it is captivating, and it is well-written. I feel like the writing was just spot on. It was interesting and captivating without being melodramatic or self-absorbed.
I certainly plan on reading Will Lavender’s book Obedience. With such a success as Dominance, how can I pass on his other work? With a second novel as wonderful as Dominance, I think it’s clear we can expect great things from Will Lavender.
I urge everyone I know, and all of my readers, to go get this book. It’s a thrill-ride not to be missed!