The Spire

The Spire

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Overview

Mark Darrow grew up in small-town Ohio with no real advantages. But thanks to Lionel Farr, a professor at a nearby college, Darrow became an excellent scholar/athlete and, later, a superb trial lawyer. Now Farr offers his protégé a job as his alma mater's new president, which Darrow accepts. But being back on campus opens old wounds. Sixteen years ago, on the night of his greatest football triumph, Darrow found the body of a black female student at the base of the college bell tower, known as the Spire…

Darrow's best friend was charged with the murder, and was sent to prison for life. But Darrow is about to discover that the case against his college friend left crucial questions unanswered. Despite his new obligations—and his deepening attachment to Farr's beautiful though troubled daughter—Darrow begins an inquiry into the murder and is soon convinced that the real killer is still at large…and that his own life is surely at risk.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780792766834
Publisher: AudioGO
Publication date: 09/28/2009
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 1.50(h) x 5.00(d)

About the Author

RICHARD NORTH PATTERSON is the author of Degree of Guilt, Eclipse, The Race, Exile, and more than a dozen other bestselling and critically acclaimed novels. Formerly a trial lawyer, he was the SEC liaison to the Watergate special prosecutor and has served on the boards of several Washington advocacy groups. He lives on Martha's Vineyard and in San Francisco and Cabo San Lucas with his wife, Dr. Nancy Clair.

Read an Excerpt

Sixteen years after the murder of Angela Hall had precipitated the decline of Caldwell College, Mark Darrow returned to campus, standing in the shadow of the Spire.

Darrow had come at the urgent request of Dr. Lionel Farr, his professor and mentor, one of the seminal figures in Caldwell’s history and in Darrow’s life. It was the end of the spring semester and blossoming dogwood trees, set between generous oaks, brightened the landscape with pink. Even here, Darrow could detect Farr’s influence; since becoming provost, Lionel Farr had overseen the planting of pine trees and neatly tended gardens, giving the foliage both variety and order. But the buildings spaced throughout had no par tic u lar theme: the oldest—elaborate brownstones with Gothic steeples and towers— were mixed with square, staid structures from the late nineteenth century and newer buildings in a variety of architectural styles, some more nondescript than others. As a student, Darrow had found this hodgepodge engaging, a stone- and- brick record of the growth of Caldwell College over time. Though the campus would never resemble that of a picture- book college, these structures had housed generations of students and nurtured much learning— including, as Darrow gratefully remembered, his own.

The current students looked much like Darrow’s classmates had all those years ago. With the subdued, somewhat dazed look of college kids facing finals, they wandered past him, taking little notice, Darrow reflected wryly, of the former campus legend, now a latethirtyish lawyer in a business suit, headed for his meeting with the presidential search committee of a small Ohio school in crisis. Then Darrow looked up at the Spire, recalling the most vivid hours of his youth, and all trace of humor vanished.

Erected two de cades before the Civil War by the school’s found er, the Reverend Charles Caldwell, the tower remained as Caldwell had intended: the epicenter of campus, with four brick pathways radiating outward like spokes, the other buildings set at an appropriate, almost reverent distance. At its base was chiseled, Christ, the Chief Cornerstone. From there, at Caldwell’s insistence, over two hundred feet of sandstone rose above everything but sky.

The found er’s aspirations had been realized— the Spire dominated both the landscape and the psyche of Caldwell College. Its image graced the yearbook, the alumni magazine, the school’s letterhead, and, for over 160 years, had decorated every diploma issued to a graduate of Caldwell. Part of Darrow’s fraternity initiation had been to memorize Webster’s definition of a spire: “a structure that tapers to a point at the top, as in a steeple.” Just below the steeple, in a space with four long openings, the great bell of the college hung, its deep resonant clang reserved for moments of celebration or sadness. The lawn beneath the Spire was the scene of graduations, weddings, pep rallies, and memorial ser vices. In the week before Caldwell’s annual football grudge match with its hated rival, Ohio Lutheran, students guarded it at night from vandals: by long tradition, the Spire was where, if Caldwell emerged triumphant, the celebration would begin. It was on such a Saturday in November that a twenty- one- year- old Mark Darrow had ascended the Spire for the first and only time, never imagining that, within hours, this memory, and this place, would turn dark for all the years that followed.

A scant hour before, Mark had thrown the last of four touchdown passes, sealing Ohio Lutheran’s defeat; Coach Fiske, whose privilege this was, had designated Mark to ring the bell atop the Spire. Very rarely was a student admitted to the bell tower— the Spire’s oaken door had been padlocked since 1938, when a drunken celebrant had fallen from the Spire to his death. The new president, Clark Durbin, had opened the door for Mark and passed him the ceremonial bronze axe with the chip in its blade, the spoils of Caldwell’s victory. Then Mark stepped inside.

Alone, he paused inside the shadowy tower, filled with awe and reluctance. Since early childhood, Mark had loathed confined spaces; the absence of light frightened and depressed him. The winding staircase, dark and dank and steep, led, in Mark’s imagination, to a chamber suitable to druids or high priests. Battling claustrophobia, conscious of his responsibility to commence the celebration, Mark started climbing. He felt his chest tighten, a nameless terror choking his breathing. As a distraction, he counted each stone step to confirm that— as his fraternity had also required him to remember— the Spire had 207 steps, each one foot high.

Reaching the top at last, Mark opened its door. The square chamber was bare, its mortared stone walls adding to its severity. Hanging over him was a massive brass bell. Mark’s other aversion was heights: though the four long openings of the tower began at his waist, he approached the one he had chosen gingerly, as though some invisible hand might send him hurtling into space. But as he surveyed the throng below, a surge of triumph overcame his fear.

The lawn was covered with students, many of whom had already embarked on an alcohol- fueled bacchanalia that, for some, might last until dawn. Among them stood Lionel Farr, his wife, Anne, and their twelve- year- old daughter, Taylor, who had waited with the others for Mark to appear. Mark spotted them and then, for Farr more than anyone, he brandished the axe, his grin of triumph spreading as Taylor waved back with an adolescent’s adoration. Seeing him, the crowd let loose with a deep- throated roar. Then, heart pounding, Mark reached for the heavy iron chain . . .

Staring up at the tower, Darrow could still hear the deep tolling whose echo had nearly deafened him. But now there were spotlights placed around the Spire, so that darkness never came here. This, too, was the work of Lionel Farr.

The moments before he had first met Farr— an encounter that changed his life forever— were also imprinted in Darrow’s memory.

He had been a seventeen- year- old in a small Ohio town, a star football player but a middling student. With no real family or any future he could see, he hoped only to wrest one timeless moment from a high school athlete’s transient glory. His chance came down to the last play of his final game as quarterback of the Wayne Generals. The air was crisp, carrying the smell of popcorn and burnt leaves; the field, a bowl of light in the darkness, reverberated with the enthusiasm of a football town of seventeen thousand, perhaps half of them here huddled against the cold, screaming and stomping the wooden bleachers with booted feet, the small minority of blacks quieter and seated in their own clusters. There were six yards to go, four seconds left, three points between Wayne and its first defeat in an otherwise perfect season. The Generals broke the huddle, seven linemen in blue jerseys loping toward the line of scrimmage, their shadows moving alongside, as Mark, two running backs, and a flanker spread out behind them. Opposite them was the Cloverdale defense, eleven boys in green uniforms, their four defensive backs— poised to thwart a pass or run— portraits of taut alertness.

For an instant Mark took it all in— the light and darkness, the primal roar of the crowd, the illuminated clock frozen at 0:04. Pulsing with adrenaline, he positioned himself, setting his hands between the center’s legs, conscious of his halfback, George Garrison, slightly behind and to the right. Time slowed for Mark; the cadence of his

voice seemed to come from somewhere else.

The ball snapped into his hands.

Spinning, Mark slid the ball into George’s stomach, then withdrew it as George, the decoy, hit the line as though determined to break through. Alone, Mark sprinted toward the sideline with the ball. Two linebackers ran parallel, barring his path to the end zone while his own blockers fanned in front of him. Without seeming to look, Mark saw the flanker, Steve Tillman, suddenly break toward the center of the field, two feet ahead of the back assigned to cover him.

At once Mark decided. Stopping abruptly, he threw the ball, praying that Steve would reach it before it fell to earth. Desperately, Steve leaped, feet leaving the grass as he stretched, arms extended, grasping at the ball. Then he clasped it, clutching it to his stomach as he landed near the goal line amid the crowd’s thin cry of uncertainty, awaiting the referee’s signal that Steve had either reached it or fallen short, the difference between victory and defeat.

Mark’s heart raced. Then, gazing down at Steve, the referee thrust both hands into the air.

Tears came to Mark’s eyes, a swift surge of joy and loss. This was it, he was certain: the last clear triumph of his life.

The first teammate to reach him, George Garrison, hugged him, his round black face alight. But when Steve Tillman wedged between them, George turned away. “You’re the best,” Steve said. When Mark reached out for George, he was gone.

The next half hour was a blur— the screaming crowd; the shouted questions from sports reporters; the celebration in the locker room, joyous yet shadowed by the se niors’ awareness, so vivid in Mark’s mind, that this was the end, deepened by his own deflating knowledge that he had no plan or even hope for where his life might take him now. When he emerged into the chill night with Steve, his sole vision of the future was to take Steve’s station wagon and, armed with beer and whiskey, meet two girls at the reservoir.

A man stood in their path, hands thrust into his pockets. “Mark?”

Mark paused, impatient to be on his way, regarding the stranger with mild annoyance. “I’m Lionel Farr,” the man said in a voice of calm authority. “I teach at Caldwell College.”

Though Mark had met other professors at Caldwell— all of them parents of his classmates— Farr looked like none of them. An inch or two taller than Mark, Farr had strong features and the erect posture of an athlete or a soldier. Unlike most of the townspeople, he was bareheaded; instead of a jacket, he wore an olive wool coat, belted at the waist, adding to his martial air. Nodding to Steve, Farr asked Mark, “Can we talk for a moment?”

Shooting a glance at his friend, who was obviously mystified, Mark saw George Garrison leaving with a pretty classmate, Angela Hall. He thought to call out to them; then, not knowing the black girl, and aware of Steve and George’s aversion to each other, he stified the thought. “I’ll meet you at the car,” he told Steve.

Steve walked away, casting a last look of bemusement toward his friend. Turning to Farr, Mark said, “What is it?”

The brusque inquiry evoked the trace of a smile. “I’ve been watching you all season,” Farr responded. “You have great presence of mind and understand the game. You could play football in college.”

Mark shook his head. “Too small, too slow.”

Farr continued to look amused. “I didn’t mean at Ohio State. The right college— Division III- A, where small but slow has a chance to survive.”

Mark shook his head, feeling the obscure resentment of someone being baited. “Those schools don’t give scholarships. For grades, maybe, but not football.”

“What are your college plans?”

Mark looked down. “I don’t know. Money’s a problem.” He hesitated. “So’s my transcript.”

Farr waited until Mark met his eyes. “I understand. I know something about your life, Mark. The money and grades seem to be re

lated.”

Instinctively, Mark bridled at this intimation of sympathy.

“I have friends at the high school,” Farr added mildly. “I hope you don’t mind that I did a little checking.”

In the semidarkness, Mark studied the professor’s face. “It sort of depends on the reason.”

Despite Mark’s curtness, Farr looked unfazed. “A good one, I think. But this isn’t the time and place to discuss it. My wife and I would like you to come for dinner.”

Mark was unsettled. He did not know this man at all, let alone what this was about. Seeing Mark’s reluctance, Farr continued, “Why don’t we say Monday. You can come to my four o’clock class, then home with me. A small taste of college life.”

Bereft of words, Mark responded to the stranger’s understated but palpable force of personality. “I guess so. Sure.”

“Good. I’ll call the Tillmans with directions.”

With this last suggestion that Farr was uncomfortably conversant with Mark’s life, Farr extended his hand.

As though responding to an order, Mark took it.

Years later, Mark Darrow wondered if his interest in justice and morality, the seeds of his law career, had wakened that next Monday in Farr’s four o’clock seminar.

Mark did not know the campus; for him it existed as a rarefied world, in which young people smarter and more privileged than him engaged in a mysterious rite of passage, learning punctuated by drunken parties. “Brundage Hall is behind the Spire,” Dr. Farr had told him, and so he made his way toward the tower, which before he had only glimpsed above the trees that shrouded the campus. He took one path, then another, until the campus opened to the large grassy circle at its heart. Positioned at the center of the circle, the Spire was austere but strangely powerful: weathered and stained by time, it was topped by a graceful steeple so high that Mark had to lean back to see it. Hurrying past, he managed to find Farr’s class.

Dressed in boots, khakis, and a wool fisherman’s sweater, Farr paused momentarily in his lecture, nodding briefly to Mark as he found a desk in one corner of the musty classroom. Turning back to the dozen or so students clustered near the front, Farr said, “Friedrich Nietz sche was hardly the first phi los o pher to challenge the concept of objective morality. Who were his most convincing pre de ces sors?”

Several hands shot up; Farr pointed to a bearded, red- haired kid in an army jacket. “Callicles and Thrasymachus,” he answered, “in Plato’s dialogues. Both argued that the idea of ‘justice’ is a sham, a subjective means of social control, and that therefore a wise man subverts ‘justice’ to his own ends.”

“Then what makes Nietz sche distinctive?”

The redhead answered swiftly, eagerly: “He attacked two thousand years of Western thought, where phi los o phers promoted ‘morality’ as a kind of social glue.”

Farr nodded. After barely a minute, Mark had grasped how completely he commanded the classroom, how intensely the students wanted his approval or, at least, to interest him. “So if moralists are charlatans or fools, Mr. Clyde, what did Nietz sche think was at the root of our foolishness?”

“Religion,” a pudgy student in wire- rimmed glasses responded. “The Christians and Jews were weak; the Romans who ruled them were strong. Therefore these religions used the idea of morality as a defense against the Romans, who, by accepting ‘morality,’ would be more likely to allow them to survive.”

“If,” Farr asked, “our most sacred moral precepts—even the Ten Commandments— are merely a tactical invention of the weak, what does that imply?”

Mark felt the desire to object— he had learned the Ten Commandments in Sunday school, and the subordination of self from astring of coaches. “Racism,” a dark- haired female student said sharply. “If Jews are weak, and morality a fantasy they invented to survive, there’s no reason not to exterminate them.”

Farr gave her an arid smile. “To be fair, Nietz sche also says some rather nasty things about Christians, Germans, and his fellow philosophers.”

“But he can be read to justify evil.” Glancing at her notes, the young woman read, “ ‘As the wicked enjoy a hundred kinds of happiness of which the virtuous have no inkling, so do they possess a hundred kinds of beauty.’ Hitler would have agreed.”

Farr eyed her narrowly, his leonine head still, as though deciding whether to play this out. “What is Nietz sche positing about man’s inherent nature?”

“It suggests that we have within us the desire to be cruel and the need to dominate.”

Farr cocked his head. “Let’s put that to the test, Ms. Rosenberg. Suppose you ordered one of your classmates whipped or beaten. How would you feel?”

I couldn’t do that, Mark thought automatically. The young woman answered promptly, “I’d feel guilty.”

Farr’s cool blue eyes glinted. “To Nietz sche, justice is merely a mechanism through which the state exerts its will, dressing it up in moral sentiments to disguise its exercise of power. What does this do to the concept of guilt?”

The woman hesitated. “That it only exists in our own minds,” a clean- cut blond man interjected. “Nietz sche suggests that guilt is a mechanism of social control, keeping us from exercising our own free will.”

Once again, Farr nodded briskly. Mark felt the relationship between teacher and class as an organic entity, in which, directed by Farr, minds fed upon one another.

As the debate continued, Mark was surprised to discover that he grasped its core: Does whoever is in authority make the rules to suit themselves, or are some rules a simple matter of right and wrong? “For our next discussion,” Farr concluded, “I ask you to consider your own nature. Do you refrain from theft or rape or murder because you’re afraid of getting caught or because you’d feel guilty? And, if so, is your guilt based on anything more than what you’ve been trained to feel?” A smile played on Farr’s lips. “I expect an answer from each of you by Thursday.”

With that, the students began slowly filing out, as though still pondering the question. Picking up a trim leather briefcase, Farr asked in a tone of mild inquiry, “Do you have an answer, Mark?”

Looking up at the keen face of this professor, Mark felt the same need to please him he had seen in the others, even as he tried to find the bones of a response. Instinctively, he said, “I don’t think the rules were just made up. If there weren’t any, we’d all end up killing each other. You can’t always count on being the strongest.”

Farr laughed softly. “I should introduce you to Thomas Hobbes. We can talk about him on the way home.”

A few minutes later, Mark entered yet another world.

The Farrs’ home, a rambling red- brick structure located on a tree-lined street, was strikingly different from the shotgun ranch house Mark had lived in for most of his seventeen years. It dated back to the 1850s, Farr explained. Lovingly restored, the living room featured a hardwood floor covered by rich- looking Oriental rugs; shelves filled with hardcover books; and paintings that, because they resembled nothing in life, Mark assumed to be modern art. But perhaps most striking was Anne Farr, extending her hand with a smile at once gracious and reserved, her jet- black hair showing the first few strands of gray, her handsome, chiseled face so pale Mark thought of porcelain, her eastern accent suggesting what people called good breeding. “Excuse me while I see to dinner,” she told him pleasantly. “You two just enjoy yourselves.”

Excerpted from Spire by Richard North Patterson.

Copyright © 2009 by Richard North Patterson.

Published in September 2009 by Henry Holt and Company.

All rights reserved. This work is protected under copyright laws and reproduction is strictly prohibited. Permission to reproduce the material in any manner or medium must be secured from the Publisher.

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The Spire 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 69 reviews.
ShadowKC More than 1 year ago
if you read a lot of mystery "who done it", you may be able to figure it out...nice read.
cettaknits on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Patterson's latest revolves around Mark Darrow, a lawyer who owes his current life and career to his football scholarship and to his professor, Lionel Farr. Now, years later, Farr calls on the recently-widowed Darrow to give back to his alma mater, asking him to return as the college's president and rebuild its reputation. I have to say that of all of Patterson's thrillers, this was the least, well, thrilling. It was a little too predictable, a little too pat.
julyso on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Mark Darrow returns to his alma mater, Caldwell College, to help out old friend and mentor, Lionel Farr. The school is trying to recover from the embezzlement of $900,000 by the the current president. When Darrow was a student at Caldwell he discovered the body of Angela Hall, murdered, at the base of the spire. His best friend, Steve Tillman, is serving a life sentence for the murder. Darrow has never believed that Steve was capable of murder. Not only is Mark trying to learn his new job, he is also trying to investigate a murder that is sixteen years old, and is having a relationship with Taylor Farr, the daughter of Lionel Farr.I really enjoyed this book by Richard North Patterson. It is intriguing, well-written, and suspenseful. I really didn't figure the whole thing out until I got to the end, so it surprised me. The back and forth between the present and the past is very well done, not confusing at all. I also liked the love story, it really added to the story for me.
jonesli on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Thank goodness Mr. Patterson has returned to the psychological suspense novel. This genre, I believe is his specialty. I found myself captivated from the first few pages. The Spire refers to the daunting bell tower located on the campus of Caldwell College. It is the story of 17 year old Mark Darrow, star high school athlete but mediocre student, who is befriended and mentored by Dr. Lionel Farr, a philosophy professor at Caldwell. Dr Farr arranges for both Mark and his best friend Steve Tillman to obtain athletic scholarships to Caldwell. Unfortunately Steve suffers a knee injury which ends his college football career. One night in November, after throwing four touchdown passes; Mark becomes the hero of the night and as part of his celebration Mark was allowed to ring the bell in the Spire. His celebration of his big night is forever changed the next morning by his discovery of the murdered body of Angela Hall, a black female student near the Spire. The night of the celebration, Mark¿s friend Steve and another friend Joe Betts are involved in a fight, are both seen with the victim, are both drunk, and Steve doesn¿t seem to remember what happened. All evidence points to Steve; he is tried, and convicted to life in prison. Steve seemed o have genuinely liked Angela, unfortunately prior racial statements he made helped to seal his fate, in addition he may also have had inadequate counsel. Her murder sparks racial tensions and tarnishes the integrity of the college. Mark knows something about that night that does not share with the police or with his friend Steve thinking that what he knows might somehow make things worse for his friend. He consequently does not attend the trial and moves on with his life, going on to law school and becoming a successful criminal attorney. Sixteen years after graduation, Mark is asked by his mentor Dr. Farr, now the college provost, to become the college¿s new president and to help solve the mystery of $900,000 in missing endowment money. The investment committee¿s chairman just happens to be Joe Betts, Mark¿s old friend. Even with the demands of his new position Mark continues to have nagging doubts about his friend Steve¿s guilt and begins to probe into the case. He is also falling in love with Dr. Farr¿s daughter Taylor, who is troubled by events in her past. There was good character development throughout the entire book and even though I began to guess the conclusion toward the end, it did not make it any less thrilling by the time I reached the riveting conclusion.
justmelissa on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Mark Darrow returns to his alma mater to help the troubled college get back on track. As president of Caldwell College, his primary role is to navigate the campus through the financial and public relations crisis catalyzed by embezzlement by the previous president. Underlying the college's hardship is the murder of a minority scholarship student years before; a crime for which Mark's college friend is now serving time. In this small town, many of the same people who were part of the murder investigation are now involved in dealing with the embezzlement. As Mark investigates both crimes, details emerge that cause Mark to question everything he believes about both crimes. This book is a refreshing return to vintage Richard North Patterson. The relationships between characters is well developed and believable. Patterson captures the culture of the small campus and community, including the tensions that often arise between town and gown. Each character seems essentially good, but with flaws just big enough for the reader to believe that they could be involved in one crime or the other (or in some cases, both). Just when I'd decide "he did it," another piece of information would be revealed and I'd think "no,HE did it." RNP kept me guessing until the end. The rich characters and setting, along with an interesting mystery make this book a page turner. Patterson should write more psychological thrillers...he does it very well!
Chuck2 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Three thumbs up. A really great read. A mystery, thriller and romantic story all mixed into one excellent story. I must add that I have read other Patterson books before but I enjoyed this one the most. Thanks.
AnneWK on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The book begins with the thrilling final seconds of a college football game when our hero, a senior playing in his last game, throws the winning touchdown and is chosen, according to tradition, to climb the trademark tower of the title and ring the bell in celebration. Sixteen years later Mark Darrow is a successful Boston attorney asked to return to his alma mater as president to help Caldwell College through an embezzlement scandal. His former mentor, hugely instrumental in shepherding Darrow from an abusive family to college and into life, is now the powerful provost asking his help. Darrow -- Mark, not Clarence -- is mourning the death of his wife and unborn child and agrees, grateful to the provost and the school for his chance in life. Additionally, Darrow is still concerned about a murder committed the night of the football victory. His closest friend was sentenced to life in prison for the death, but Darrow has always had questions about his friend's guilt. While dealing with the embezzlement and all the other responsibilities of a college president, Darrow finds the time to visit his old friend in prison, to begin investigating the old crime, and to become involved with the provost's rather troubled daughter, now 28, who is trying to reestablish a relationship with her father, and whom Darrow remembers from his college days as a lovely, precocious chiild. Darrows' investigations lead him to the truth -- ah, we knew he'd succeed! -- but not before a couple of wrong turns. Although the writing is not particularly noteworthy and some of the characters are almost place-holders -- particularly the dead wife -- Patterson's skill at leading us to dreadful suspicion keeps us guessing until nearly the end
kysmom02 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I liked this book because it was different than what I normally read and different from what I expected. It wasn't a suspenseful book in that the action was taking place as I read. It was more in retrospect. Written this way worked for this book and made the love story part of the novel that much more poignant. I wasn't sure how that was going to work with this book, but it really did. At the end, I liked how it all tied together. This book is very well written. While not something that is totally 'drop everything and read this' it's still really good. It touches on a tough topic; race. Not only that, but interracial dating, and then murder. The main character, Mark is incredibly interesting. His broken home made him lean to anyone who would show an interest in him. So, when Farr approaches and helps him get in to college, Mark adopts this man and strives to be someone. He ends up being an incredibly smart lawyer, perfect for this book and all that his return to Caldwell needs. Overall, I'd like to read other books by this author. This book would make a great book club read because of the issues that he brings into the book. Not to mention his skill in weaving the story together between murder and love. Liked it a lot!
Bumpersmom on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I received this book and an Early Reviews edition and I was very pleased with it.Richard North Patterson writes a psychological suspense thriller that allows the reader to be slowly drawn into the story and pretty soon you can't put the book down.Amurder occurred in this small Ohio college town 16 years ago, and in present day, its continued without further violence, but a crime has occurred, and the college faculty reaches out to an amumni whose talents can save them. Next thing we know, the current crime starts to appear related to the 16 year ol murder and the story begins its suspenseful journey of unraveling both.I enjoyed it and I recommend this to true mystery fans.
miyurose on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I consider RNP one of the masters of the character-driven thriller. Here, he gets away from the politics of his last few books and takes us to a small college campus (a particularly compelling venue for me). Mark Darrow is being called back to the place where he found himself, Caldwell College. The current president is caught up in an embezzlement scandal, and Darrow, now a corporate lawyer, is being asked to take his place.It¿s not exactly a happy reunion. Darrow has had his share of personal tragedy, and returning to campus brings back the memories of an awful murder that his best friend was convicted of. He is supposed to be devoting his time to pulling the college out of its doldrums, but instead he can¿t stop himself from trying to prove his friend¿s innocence. And along the way, well, he just happens to fall in love with his mentor¿s daughter.I like how RNP gives every character a secret. No one is black and white, even the most minor character. The story does turn out to be a little predictable¿ I realized who the bad guy was going to be almost immediately, and the final confrontation is a giant cliché that you expect as soon as the location is declared. But all of that doesn¿t take away from another winning story.
OneMorePage on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Mark, a boy from a poor upbringing is given an opportunity for a football scholarship at a local midwestern college. At the end of his senior year, he finds the body of another scholarship winner, Angela, a young black woman. He had last seen this woman leaving a party celebrating his final college football achievement on the arm of his best friend, Steve. As Mark leaves for Ivy-league law school, Steve is taken to jail. As Mark becomes a rich attorney, Steve is convicted of murder.Years pass. Mark loses his wife and unborn child to an accident. He returns to the college that gave him his start to help the college recover from the recent embezzlement of a great deal of money from the alumni trust fund. He goes to visit Steve, then starts to think again about the night Angela died. He begins asking questions.Well-done thriller, if a bit predictable.
maddonna on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Not as good or as suspenseful as some of his other books
readteach on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is the first book by Richard North Patterson that I have read, and I will read more! I enjoyed this mystery and the characters. Mark Darrow returns to his former college as its President and has to deal with two mysteries -- finding out if the former President really did embezzle money, and dealing with a murder that occurred on campus 16 years earlier when he attended as a student. The outcome became predictable part way through, but still enjoyable to see why and how it would be resolved.
jeremytaylor on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Richard North Patterson, acclaimed for his character-driven political thrillers, makes a departure from the major issues of previous novels like Eclipse and Exile and turns out a straightforward campus mystery in The Spire.Mark Darrow has made millions practicing law after graduating on a football scholarship from Caldwell College, a fictional but familiar-seeming formerly Christian school in small-town Ohio. Sixteen years later, his alma mater is asking for his help. The school is embroiled in a financial scandal involving its president, and Lionel Farr, Darrow¿s mentor and the school¿s provost, asks Darrow to return to Caldwell to fill the now empty position. Darrow agrees, but upon his return, he quickly finds that all is not well at the little college.The story follows Darrow as he adapts to his new job, but between fundraising calls to prominent alumni and meetings with faculty, he finds time to investigate not only the financial scandal for which the former president was ousted but also a 16-year-old murder for which his best friend is still serving time. For some reason, no one in town, from the police chief to the local attorney, seems to think it the least bit odd that the new college president would be investigating a murder that took place a decade and a half earlier.As a mystery, The Spire mostly succeeds. Patterson does a good job of setting up multiple plausible suspects early on, and the ending delivers a predictable but satisfying twist. But the story, while interesting, is flawed by uncharacteristically careless writing. The transitions between story elements are jarring at times, and much of the book¿s first half contains confusing memories of memories and flashbacks within flashbacks. The plot is frequently interrupted by lengthy sections of dialog that, while they serve to build character depth, are largely unsupported by any real drama in the story.Like most of this author¿s books, the story is told from a purely secular viewpoint, and the objectionable content that exists stems from that fact. It is either interesting or unfortunate, depending on one¿s point of view, that Caldwell, a purportedly Christian institution, exists in such an environment that things like rampant drug and alcohol abuse and even a professor¿s affair with a student are viewed as wrong only insofar as they affect the school¿s reputation among wealthy alumni.For all its problems, however, this book was still penned by one of the great fiction authors of our time. So while it falls short of the bar set by Patterson¿s best-sellers of previous years, it nevertheless manages to be compelling right to the final page.
NovelBookworm on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I think I¿ve been living under a rock, I¿ve never read anything by Richard North Patterson before. And I know I¿ll be looking for more books by him. Patterson¿s way of plotting the storyline was excellent. I had an inkling about 2/3 of the way through the book on who the murderer really was, and even though I ended up being right, I really liked the way the author lead the protagonist to the moment of discovery. It was very subtle and I found myself thinking, ¿C¿mon, Mark, pay attention¿it¿s *****¿ (I don¿t want to give it away, hence the ****) And Mark did pay attention, it a carefully nuanced fashion, not so slowly as to make this reader yell at the book, ¿Mark¿. you¿re stupid¿. focus Pinky, focus¿¿, but quietly, steadily and effectively. It was so effective, that even though I swore I knew ¿whodunit¿, I still had niggling thoughts I might be wrong. And that¿s a great writing ability, to pull in the reader, make us think we know what¿s going on, and yet still keep us guessing until the very end. The Spire by Richard North Patterson is a terrific read that I don¿t hesitate to recommend.
DBower on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This author is one of my favorites and I particularly like the diversity of his writing. WIth this book he returns to his psychological suspense thriller and as usual does a sensational job with the character and plot development. This book had me hooked from page 1 and I could not put it down. I am ready for his next book.
Zilavy on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
If this only Richard North Patterson book I've read is typical, then the guy must be a pulp factory. The story grabs you slightly from the beginning, but as it goes on it becomes less and less satisfying as the flaws become clear. Here are the flaws: First, each character seems to have exactly the same personality and way of communicating. Each converses in the same glib fashion. Each tries to be funny and clever in conversation, but falls short. (Example: a recovering alcoholic is asked by a waiter what he wants to drink. "Chateau Perrier", he responds. "I hear May was a good month." Second, the characters act in unbelievable ways. Without giving anything away, the lead character, Mark, is a lawyer who asks personally and clearly damaging questions of people he hasn't seen in years as he works to unravel the core mystery. Rather than tell him to take a flying leap, as would be there right to do, they give detailed and potentially incriminating responses with no adequate motivation.Third, It becomes clear early on that the author is following the mystery genre formula of hinting at one suspect before bringing in the actual suspect from left field. So, as a reader who has seen this formula over and over and over again in books and on TV and movies, you look for the least obvious person and expect that he/she will be the one. In this case, only one person fits that description and so you see before the book is half finished where it is going to end up.Fourth, the author at the 4/5 mark seems to have become bored with his own story and so just rushes the reader through a path of implausibles to finish things up. And the finish is very unsatisfying.I will never read another book by this author. He compares very unfavorably with the likes of John Grisham and Ken Follet who are much more adept at believable character and plot development in the same genre.I must say, I'm astounded by the number of positive reviews, particularly since most agree with some of my criticisms, namely thet the solution to the mystery is obvious from the start. I can only conclude that these reviewers do not have high enough standards or expectations and would urge them to read some other authors in the genre to see how well it really can be done.
cmeilink on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Loved this book. I haven't read Richard North Patterson for a while, but I'm glad I picked this up.Mark Darrow is given a scholarship to play football in college via Lionel Farr, a professor at the college who for some reason, takes it upon himself to act as the boy's mentor. Mark agrees if Lionel can possibly arrange to extend a scholarship to his best friend, Steve, whose family he has been living with the past few years.Mark gets the education he has only dreamed of and has planned to go on to law school. Shortly before he and Steve are about to finish college, a girl is found murdered and his friend goes to prison for the crime.Years have passed and Mark returns to the college to take up the position of president per Lionel's request. Mark has never accepted that his friend is a killer and begins to investigate the murder for which his friend has already served 15 years.I found the characters and plot interesting--in fact, I downed this book in about a day.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I found it hard to get into the book but once i did, it had a gripping plot with an unexpected ending
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Personally I didn't like this book at all. The book was filled with all these off the wall words that you had to spend time thinking about what they meant. If he meant to dazzle us with his use of big words instead it just made for heavy reading. I like to be entertained not sent back to college. I thought this truly was a boring book.
madrap More than 1 year ago
Although I knew "who did it" quite early in the book (and wondered why it took our "superman" hero so long to figure it out, the book was entertaining and a good read, overall.