The Pledge

The Pledge

by Rob Kean


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Simsbury College lacrosse star Mark Jessey looks on the members of the Sigma fraternity as his only true family. But when a Sigma freshman turns up dead, Mark is forced to question his deepest loyalties.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780446524971
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Publication date: 08/01/1999
Pages: 528
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.31(d)

About the Author

Rob Kean, 28 years old, attended Bowdoin College where he was a member of a fraternity. He currently works for a Big Six accounting firm.

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

The 200th Year

Sunday, February 22

6:44 a.m.

They'd killed him hours before, but he still had a few minutes to suffer.

He lay young and naked, his pale, poisoned body a wisp on the damp carpet.

Midnight torture had flattened him, but now, as the morning sun shone through a bay window and off his bare ass, he stirred from his nightlong coma. He knew something was terribly wrong the moment he opened his eyes.

I'm blind, he thought, too far gone to panic.

He sorted his tangled limbs and sat up with great effort. He felt the blindfold, stiff with dried toxins and his own varied secretions.

Then, as his world spun, he remembered.

The race. The rematch. The countless fists, beating him senseless. The pitiless feet, beating him a little more.

And the timeless poetry, raining rhymes from above.

Pain and pride are inseparable twins

This is where lifelong love begins . . .

Pride, buried beneath the pain. Lifelong love, nowhere to be found. A candlelit world of knuckles and shadows and boots and confusion. And orders.

You are the weak, and we are the strong

So march while we maim you, and sing us the song . . .

His legs and lips, marching and mumbling. His throat, gagging on a song and something wicked. His belly, throwing it all up.

You've failed us again, but you'll fail us no more.

Go hands, knees, and mouth-mop, and clean the damn floor . . .

His hands and knees set sloppy in a hideous scum.

His tongue, cleaning the damn floor.

Now, he struggled to his feet and listened to a distant voice-his, but not his-singing vague and pathetic bits of a jumbled rhyme he could normally sing in his sleep.

'Hell . . . yell . . . obey . . . no way . . . weakness . . .' Trailing off breathlessly, he flopped back to the floor. The cold sogginess of the rug reminded him he was naked.

And why.

Back on your feet, boys, it's not over yet

There's one bad-ass brother you still haven't met . . .

His fingers groped for something, anything stable, and found a smooth rung on the balcony rail that overlooked the first floor of the fraternity house. Hauling himself to his feet once again, he let his broken hand linger on the rail for balance, and with his good hand he battled the blindfold. He wrestled weakly with the knot itself, then clawed at the fabric, somehow forcing the cloth down his face until it hung loose around his neck.

Pausing a moment to catch his breath, he heard a subtle noise behind him, a sound of movement that, on mornings of reasonable clarity, might have registered as human and covert. On this morning, however, he was his own, polluted world. It didn't occur to him to gauge the proximity and aim of another.

Slowly, very slowly, he opened his eyes.

Sunlight slammed his eyeballs and knocked him backward into the leather chair beneath the hanging portrait of some famous guy. The leather was gummy and soaked-with what, he didn't know and, at this point, certainly didn't care. He'd swallowed enough of just about everything the night before; a topical dose of the unknown on his legs wouldn't kill him.

Something else would.

But like most who die suddenly and violently, he was oblivious to forthcoming disaster. He merely knew during these, the final moments of his conscious life, that the puddle in which he sat was stinging the shit out of his rug-burned thighs.

And that someday soon, it would all be worth it.

For someday soon, he'd be a brother.

But first, he'd be sick.

He leapt to his feet.

Way too quickly.

His sight blurred, then filled with strange colors, and as he vomited, he lurched against the railing. The varnished wood tackled him at thigh level, and without feeling the hands on his back, or knowing their intention, he toppled forward into space.

I'm flying, he thought, as the bottom dropped out of his world.

Fifteen feet later, he landed headfirst.

As he lay there very still, strangely pain-free and fearless, his world slowly stopped spinning, soon to stop altogether.

7:14 a.m.

Penny Ward pulled her battered Chevy into the ice-capped parking lot of the Sigma Delta Phi fraternity house and skidded on bald tires into her usual parking spot between the rear kitchen entrance and the big blue Dumpster. She applied the parking brake, gently put the engine out of its misery, then held on for dear life as it convulsed, sputtered, and died with a sigh. Exhaling a sigh of her own, she squinted at the chapel clock in the distance.

7:15.. Fifteen minutes late, she observed without worry. On a Sunday morning in February, the brothers of Sigma wouldn't be awake for another three hours, at least. Until then, they'd be sleeping off the previous night's sins.

And she'd be cooking for them.

Penny was the breakfast chef; nine bucks an hour commanded her to make sure the Sigma brothers got their fill of omelettes and waffles, five mornings a week. Sunday was one of her mornings.

She sighed again and leaned across the ripped vinyl seat to grab her handbag. As she did, she couldn't help stealing a quick glance in the cracked rearview mirror. The sight made her cringe. She needed a haircut and a dye job, big time. She also needed the body of a twenty-year-old who'd not yet borne children, but she knew better than to ask for miracles.

She was fifty, gray and a little heavy, but in one piece. She supposed she could live with that.

She looped a finger through the handle of her bag, threw her shoulder into the driver-side door, and freed herself from the car.

Her first step toward the fraternity house found nothing but sheer ice, and down she went, hard, smacking the palm of her hand against the rusted bumper as she fell.

"Shit!" she yelled, and immediately felt guilty. It was the Sabbath, after all. Lying flat on her back, she examined her wound and noted that it was bleeding all over the sleeve of the white leather jacket that had cost her a full month's pay.

"Shit again!" This time she meant it.

Once inside, she hurled her purse onto the cutting board, then headed for the first-aid kit in the first-floor bathroom. She stomped through the spacious dining room, thumbing her wound and wishing she had weekends off like the rest of the world.

As she entered the living room, a light, jingling sound caught her attention, and she knew what it was even before she'd looked up from her gash. Dog tags.

Sure enough, from behind one of the sofas jutted the black, beefy hindquarters of Geronimo, the slobbery mutt owned by one of the juniors who lived on the second floor. Penny generally liked dogs, but she had no place in her heart for this one; she spent a good deal of her daily time and energy shooing his voracious appetite from the kitchen. Judging from the dog's posture, Penny guessed that the beast was, as usual, licking something off the floor.

Something was obstructed from Penny's view.

Something undoubtedly disgusting.

Whatever it was, she had no desire to look.

But as she hustled past, something made her glance down and to the left, and when she did, she gasped.

On the floor, beneath the second-floor balcony, lay a naked, twisted body. It took Penny a moment to place the face, then a moment more to attach a name to the carnage. It was a pledge-Chad something-or-other; she knew that much. She also knew that this was far more than just a standard, drunken pass-out, and her heart began to pound. The pledge's body was bent unnaturally, and his skin was covered with some sort of black writing. A pool of blood encircled his head, and it was this puddle that Geronimo was lapping.

Penny backpedaled on weak feet that barely felt the floor beneath them. Her own wound forgotten, she wheeled and fled back toward the kitchen. She picked up the kitchen phone, whispered something Catholic, and tried to remember the number for 911.

(c) 1999 by Rob Kean"

Customer Reviews

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The Pledge 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 27 reviews.
SenoraG163 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Absolutely wonderful book that I found hard to put down. Made me sad reading it because I have no doubt things such as the book portrays go on in life. Highly recommended
RHicks8426 More than 1 year ago
In the novel, The Pledge, by Rob Kean we see many moral issues  for the characters. This novel is about the death of a pledge at the fraternity, Sigma Delta Phi. The D-Squad at Simsbury College where the book takes place, feels that there is more to this death that meets the eye. The main character, Mark Jessy, an all American lacrosse player is at the center of this huge scandal. Also he is on the D-Squad, along with his girlfriend Shawn Jakes, who is intent on bringing Sigma Delta Phi down and let it burn to the ground. Once it is discovered that a student was killed the college board of directors want a full fledged investigation. However the fraternity and its alumni will stop at nothing to keep this from happening. The are even willing to kill, to keep this fraternity, this brotherhood alive. Eventually the whole thing turns into a massive scandal of unconventional proportions. As a reader i found this book to be very interesting. It kept me on edge and always wanting to turn the page. What stands out in my mind is just how ruthless people can be for something that they love. It is amazing that some of the men in the book were willing to kill innocent people, just to keep there fraternity alive and going. I like the parts of the court scenes, where we see Mark become more mature. however I didn't particularly like the park where Shawn Jakes is threatened, by one of the brothers. This book reminds me of a murder mystery where the killer is right under everyone's noses. Overall I think Keans point is that if something happens, weather it be accidental or not, the person or people responsible need to take responsibility and own up to their punishments. I would only recommend this book to mature people that can handle the grotesque imagery in this novel. I would not recommend this novel to those that are not  very mature.     
Guest More than 1 year ago
I loved the way that this novel kept you at the edge of your seat the entire time...
Guest More than 1 year ago
the book keeps you reading, it's hard to put down. It portrays the characters as someone you might see sitting next to you in class or on campus. The fraternity tales were much like the party experiences I have seen during my college career. Great book have advised other sorority and fraternity members to read.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This outstanding book kept me reading well into the night. Novelist Rob Kean has written a fine, timely novel about Hazing and its consequences. Hard to believe this is a first novel, it is so well written, I guarantee you will not be able to put this book down. Don't stop with this one Rob.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I loved this book and am very impressed with Rob Kean's writing. Does anybody know of anymore books he has written since? I can't seem to find anything else from him. I totally disagree with the bad reviews from other authors stated above!
Guest More than 1 year ago
the pledge got off to a bit of a slow start but a really good book, movie material. this book when it picks up speed will have you never wanting to put it down. this is a really good book! read.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is outstanding. The reader relates to the characters in an unbelivable way. It is a page turner. I can't wait to read another book by this author.
Guest More than 1 year ago
It is so rare that one reads a book with a setting and plot one can relate to so personally. Rarely does a writer as young as Mr. Kean put together such an incredible book. Having attended a college with a similar setting the book struck a lot of chords. I thought he helped me see my own college experience better. It really brought to light some important issues without being preachy. And the writing is more masculine and punchy than anything I've ever read - a refreshing voice to read. This is the kind of book that gets young people reading again. And I'm so glad it crossed my path.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book just draws you in. The characters and story are great. I couldn't put it down. It kept me in more suspense than any movie I've seen. There is a great humor to this book and an emotional connection with the characters. Definately a must read!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
What a great first novel for this author! The book was easy to read and the whole way through you ask yourself 'who is to blame?' and 'how are they going to prove it.' I really enjoyed it and I cannot wait to see what's next for this new author!
Guest More than 1 year ago
The Pledge is a fast-paced and exciting debut by Ron Kean that will most likely find wide appeal to both younger and older readers. It will definitely hold your attention from beginning to end. So why a '3' rating and not higher? Basically because the plot and characters, while interesting, tended to stretch my willingness to extend credibility beyond the breaking point in too many instances. While I understand this is a work of fiction and some implausability is 'allowed' in order to maintain suspense, The Pledge, for me, went too far too often to rate it more than three stars. Nonetheless, The Pledge is worth reading and I'm looking forward to Kean's next book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Great read. Hard to stop and get other stuff done and was always hurrying so I could get back to reading. Great plot and interesting characters.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. If I had the time I probably could have read it in one weekend. The story and the characters are plausible. Sinister, but not over the edge. Rob Kean also throws in enough creativity but it never slows the pace. I especially enjoyed Madame Rumour, but you'll have to read the book to understand what I mean.
Guest More than 1 year ago
As this is Kean's first effort as a novelist, I must give him a big thumbs up! However, with that said, the book is not amazing. The idea is wonderful, the pace is adequate and the characters recognizable. I did enjoy this read and look forward to his next work.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Although this novel had two or three moments when the tension was palpable, it generally felt slack. This novel is too long for the story that Kean is trying to tell and he dilutes the suspense with long, meandering, tangential subplots. After a strong beginning, this novel begins a slow and steady decline toward cliche. What I did like, however, was not the suspense but the comedy. There are several (intentionally)very funny passages. Kean proves more adept at humor than suspense. Although this novel gave me a few chuckles, it offered no chills.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This was by far the best book I have ever read. It should be made into a movie. All 700 pages were enthralling. It was fun trying to figure out who the bad guys were. The book kept me guessing till the end. I was captivated when Mark and Shawn began to exose the big conspiracy. It's extremley difficult to stand up to much smaller problems in our own everyday lives. I wish I could find more books like this one.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I don't read a great deal of books but this book is the best I have ever read.Rob Kean is an outstanding writer. If you like the kind of book that you can't put down this is it! I couldn't stop reading and when I did I was left thinking about it. This book is better than any of the bestsellers I've read.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Because of the length of this book, I saved it for a special vacation. I was pleasantly surprised at being unable to put it down!!! Mark Jessy embodies everything a college boy wants to be: brains, brawn, and a gorgeous girlfriend. The action moved at a steady pace and kept me on the edge of my seat....This book comes alive and grabs you until the conclusion. Unbelievable first for the author...I look forward to his next project!!! Can we get a preview??
Guest More than 1 year ago
One of the best books I have ever read (and I read continually). The author presented the characters with such vividness, you became totally absorbed in the tale. Lately some books have been so artificial and/or unbelievable, but this book held me captive from beginning to end. I want to read more books by this author.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I picked this up because the blurb attracted my attention. I didn't really expect much, however, considering this was a debut. I was pleasantly suprised at this book. The pages keep turning as the plot thickens. There are very few dull moments throughout the book. Unlike what others have said, I found this book most unpredictable. It does have some great characters and a mixture of good and evil. This novel truly lured me in, and I was in til the end. This book, thus far, is underrated. I look forward to Mr. Kean's future works. Great job.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Ok, I saw an ad for this book on the NYC Subway. I picked it up... and didn't put it down. Still, being in college, I found this book to be filled with those little nuances that keep you mind thinking about it after you put it down. The fact is, while I'm reading other books my mind tends to drift back to things that happened from the Pledge... I think it may be time for a re-read...
Guest More than 1 year ago
I was genuinely surprised when I started THE PLEDGE and simply couldn't put it down. The book jacket had caught my attention, but the words in side would not let me rest. Having attended a small college like Simsbury--I found the similarities and heirarchies eerie.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The book was good and it is really like a really relaxing book. It's good at the beginning and then they started putting facts in the end of the beginning towards the nmiddle.Also it's like a movie, you just put yourself inthe book and you understand everything about it.I'm glad I finish it.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Although I am giving this three stars, don't let that decieve you. While a 'nice' first outing for Kean, this book started well and quickly turned for the worse as the words droned on. The pace is predictable and the characters lack depth. The conspiracy involving less than genius college kids is hardly believable. If the Jerry Springer show appeals to you, then you will enjoy this book as it offers the same gratuitous elements. Otherwise, to say this is a must read ... you must have time on your hands.