Wednesday, August 24, 2011


by:  Will Lavendar
published by:  Simon & Schuster

Fifteen years earlier. 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 a video feed in his prison cell. In 1982, Aldiss was convicted of the murders of two female grad students; the women were killed with axe blows and their bodies decorated with the novels of notoriously reclusive author Paul Fallows. Even the most obsessive Fallows scholars have never seen him. He is like a ghost. Aldiss entreats the students of his night class to solve the Fallows riddle once and for all. The author’s two published novels, The Coil and The Golden Silence, are considered maps to finding Fallows’s true identity. And the only way in is to master them through a game called the Procedure. You may not know when the game has begun, but when you receive an invitation to play, it is an invitation to join the elite ranks of Fallows scholars. Failure, in these circles, is a fate worse than death. Soon, members of the night class will be invited to play along . . .

Present day. Harvard professor Alex Shipley 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 one of her fellow night class alums is murdered— the body chopped up with an axe and surrounded by Fallows novels—can she use what she knows about Fallows and the Procedure to stop a killer before each of her former classmates is picked off, one by one?

I found this book to be extremely complicated.  For that reason, I'm finding it hard to come up with a review for it.  On one hand I liked the mystery aspect of it.  However, the switching back and forth from present day to 15 years ago got a little confusing at times for me.  I would lose track of where I was.  This was one of those times where a movie would have made more sense because clothing and hairstyles, etc. would give more visual cues to help with that sort of thing.

This whole idea of "The Procedure" was really bizarre to me.  I couldn't imagine anybody I know ever doing that.  The only example of it I could think of would be like the people who dress up for the Rocky Horror Picture Show, but even that didn't seem to be as extreme as the characters in this book.  That aspect of the book, I just didn't get.

I thought the whole idea of a convicted killer teaching a class from prison was really cool.  I wondered if it had ever been done?  It seemed kinda Hannibal Lecter-ish.  Using the students as little detectives to free him from prison was ingenious.  However, I had trouble tying in the past story and the present day story AND The Procedure all together.  Maybe it was all totally over my head and I was being kinda dense.

I would say give it a go for the mystery lovers, because the central question of the identity of Paul Fallows was an interesting one and kept me reading to the end to find out.

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