Shadow of the Lions by Christopher Swann
(Algonquin – August 1, 2017)
Thank you to Algonquin for the advance copy of this title for review – all opinions are my own.
SHADOW OF THE LIONS is a breath of fresh air in the suspense genre – it is supremely intelligent and definitely lives up to its description as a literary thriller. The prestigious boarding school setting provides a dramatic backdrop for Mathias’ story, both as he describes his time there as a student and while he is navigating that same world as a struggling novelist returning as an English teacher. Swann’s Ph.D. in creative writing shines through clearly in this story as he incorporates first classical literature references, and then in the next page, corporate and military espionage. While not a complete page turner during the first half, I whipped through the second half of the book in one sitting, dying to know just WHAT HAPPENED TO FRITZ. No spoilers, but absolutely loved the ending and how everything turned out.
Swann’s essay in THE ALGONQUIN READER gave me a deeper look into his motivation for writing this book and his personal experiences with the world of boarding schools. He learned from reading classic mysteries that he needed “to create a compelling character, and then imagine that character in a situation that demands answers.” He certainly did just that in this book, as well as throw us into the world he imagines where a character must deal with the lifelong aftermath of a disappearance. I really love these essays that accompany the advance copies I receive from Algonquin (I know they are also available on NetGalley) – they give excellent insight into the world and people behind the stories.
I highly recommend this book to fans of sharp, literary suspense stories that educate and enlighten as you are trying to unravel the mystery at hand.