Book Review: Gentlemen and Players by Joanne Harris

playersAudere, agere, auferre.

To dare, to strive, to conquer.

For generations, privileged young men have attended St. Oswald’s Grammar School for Boys, groomed for success by the likes of Roy Straitley, the eccentric Classics teacher who has been a fixture there for more than thirty years. But this year the wind of unwelcome change is blowing. Suits, paperwork, and information technology are beginning to overshadow St. Oswald’s tradition, and Straitley is finally, and reluctantly, contemplating retirement. He is joined this term by five new faculty members, including one who — unbeknownst to Straitley and everyone else — holds intimate and dangerous knowledge of St. Oswald’s ways and secrets. Harboring dark ties to the school’s past, this young teacher has arrived with one terrible goal: to destroy St. Oswald’s.

One I’ve been meaning to read for years before getting around to reading this one (I met Joanne Harris years ago in Dublin and have a signed copy of this book as a result).

A cleverly written thriller, with two distinct voices – those of the Classics tutor, and that of the killer who has returned to St Oswald’s school after 15 years to bring retribution over the death of their friend Leon.

It shows Harris’ skill in that you don’t really know who the killer is (or even really their sex) until the last few chapters of the book. Well, you *do* know, in that they are the child of the school porter 15 years earlier, but who they are now, and who they are pretending to be is not known.


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