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Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Review: Shadow of the Lions by Christopher Swann



Blurb from Goodreads:
How long must we pay for the crimes of our youth? It has been almost ten years since Matthias graduated from the elite Blackburne School, where his roommate and best friend, Fritz, fled into the woods, never to be heard from again, in the middle of their senior year. Fritz vanished just after an argument over Matthias's breaking of the school's honor code, and Matthias has long been haunted by the idea that his betrayal led to his friend's disappearance.

Years later, after hitting the fast lane in New York as a successful novelist--then falling twice as hard--Matthias is stuck, a failure as a writer, a boyfriend, a person. When he is offered the opportunity to return to Blackburne as an English teacher, he sees it as a chance to put his life back together. But once on campus, Matthias gets swiftly drawn into the past, and is driven to find out what happened to Fritz. He partners with a curmudgeonly local retired cop and tries to solve the case, dealing with campus politics, the shocking death of a student, Fritz's complicated and powerful Washington, D.C., family, and his own place in the privileged world of Blackburne.

In the spirit of film noir, what follows is a tale full of unexpected turns. Shadow of the Lions is a gripping literary thriller, but also a moving coming-of-age story that is as much about the mystery as it is about the redemption of a broken friendship and a lost soul. 
My Review:
 
This was on the verge of being really interesting but the big reveal was just such a letdown for me.  I still enjoyed this, even though it meandered quite a bit, and it was a fast read.  The book started off great - a snapshot 10 years back in time at the boarding school when the MC's best friend just vanishes off campus before graduation. Fritz's disappearance sets of a downward spiral for his family and for Matthias, the MC, which culminates in Matthias coming back to teach at his alma mater where Fritz is constantly on his mind. He halfheartedly begins his search in earnest but it never felt organic to me.  Something just felt off and what Matthias ultimately discovered was weird.  Not good weird but it felt like the author didn't know how to end the book and to taper from all this build-up and just ended up cobbling a story together.  I think this could have benefited from more direction and more editing but I am interested to see what this author writes next.
Shadow of the Lions comes out next week on August 1, 2017, and you can purchase HERE. I would definitely read another book from this author, especially in this genre.  You can see some of my favorite books set in boarding schools HERE.
I had always enjoyed reading poetry, although it's a very different thing to teach others how to read it. My students felt that poets were weird, which had actually been true of some of the poets I had known at NYU. They had scared me a little, to be honest--at parties, the poets were the ones swinging from the light fixtures and trying to get the faculty, or their souses, into bed, whereas we fiction writers leaned against walls, drank early, and snuck glances at our watches. That hadn't kept me from sleeping with two of the poets. Beth was blond and warm and wrote Whitmanesque verse about rivers; Giselle was dark haired and dark spirited, with fingernails bitten to the bone, and wrote tight, acidic poems about death and betrayal, as if she were the love child of Emily Dickinson and Edgar Allan Poe. Beth said I was a lost soul while Giselle called me a fucking asshole, both of which, when you think about it, are pretty much the same thing.

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