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The Spire: A Novel Hardcover – September 1, 2009

107 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

This thoughtful if less than suspenseful thriller from bestseller Patterson (Eclipse) charts the impact of the brutal murder of black coed Angela Hall at Caldwell College in Wayne, Ohio, on gifted athlete Mark Darrow, who discovered the body and later became a nationally renowned lawyer. Mark's best friend was convicted of the crime, but many aspects of the trial troubled Mark. Lionel Farr, Caldwell's provost and Mark's former mentor, offers Mark the post of college president 16 years after Angela's murder. Mark agrees to return to Caldwell, now struggling with the suspected embezzlement of $900,000 from its endowment by its current president. With Lionel's support, Mark investigates both the embezzlement and the old murder. Patterson evokes the quiet schism between town and gown in Wayne as well as the fragile relationship between blacks and whites, while Mark's probing hits exposed nerves with fatal results. (Sept.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


“Intriguing … When we begin to develop a sense of the real truths behind the various screens created by several of the main characters, [we] can’t read fast enough to reach the finale.” —The San Francisco Chronicle
“A gripping story peopled with plausible characters … A page turner with multiple twists and a well-earned conclusion at once shocking and inevitable.”—Richmond Times Dispatch
“Inventive, shocking, and thrilling … Patterson grabs the reader by the scruff of the neck and holds him until the very last page … [The Spire] might just be his best to date.”—Tucson Citizen
“[This] intriguing novel of psychological suspense… intensifies until the shocking conclusion of this tightly plotted story… sure to please fans of Raymond Chandler, Michael Connelly, and James Lee Burke.”—Library Journal
“The novel picks up steam and builds to a shocking conclusion. Fans of Patterson’s legal thrillers, the books that made him famous, will be glad to see him back in murder-mystery mode.”—Booklist
“Thoughtful … Patterson evokes the quiet schism between town and gown… as well as the fragile relationship between blacks and whites, while Mark’s probing hits exposed nerves with fatal results.”—Publishers Weekly

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Henry Holt and Co.; 1 edition (September 1, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0805087737
  • ISBN-13: 978-0805087734
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.4 x 9.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (107 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,666,777 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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More About the Author

RICHARD NORTH PATTERSON is the author of The Spire, Eclipse and fourteen 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 in San Francisco and on Martha's Vineyard with his wife, Dr. Nancy Clair.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

45 of 46 people found the following review helpful By W. E. Phillips VINE VOICE on August 4, 2009
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Richard North Patterson has returned to writing the types of books that made him one of my favorite authors! This is a great psychological suspense novel, and drew me in from the first pages.

Mark Darrow is a succesful lawyer, but after some life crises he returns to his old alma mater as the college president. His job is to try to restore the school's reputation, which has been on the decline since a murder during his college days. This brings back many conflicts for Mark, in part because his best friend was convicted of the murder and is in prison for life.

Flipping between the past and the present, Patterson does a great job of re-telling the story and tying it into the present day. He keeps you in suspense until the very end, although I will say my hunch about the real murderer was correct. Patterson also develops a beautiful love story and tale of healing for Mark and his love interest.

This is a great book-you will not regret a minute spent reading it!
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32 of 35 people found the following review helpful By S. McGee TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on August 12, 2009
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Richard North Patterson has written some truly gripping thrillers in his day. The compelling Eyes of a Child springs to mind immediately as an example of what this writer can do when he's on top form -- a rollercoaster ride, where the reader never really knows which way is up and who to trust. Unfortunately, in this return to the genre (after recent books that have too often been tedious reads set in the world of presidential politics and the supreme court, where Patterson allowed his passion for causes like gun control to take priority over the telling of a great story, a big no-no in my opinion), the bad guy was obvious to me from very nearly his first appearance on the scene, long before the commission of any crime. (I can't say why without a giant spoiler, alas.) So my only question revolved around the specifics of 'how', and a bit of the 'why', rather than the 'who'. The result? A disappointing book.

The plot revolves around Mark Darrow, a lawyer who owes his current life and career to his football scholarship to Caldwell College and, especially, to his mentor, philosophy professor Lionel Farr. Now, Farr calls on the recently-widowed and directionless Darrow to give back to his alma mater, asking him to return as the college's president and rebuild its reputation in the wake of an embezzlement that the last president seems to have orchestrated. Together with the murder of a young African-American female student in Darrow's final year, a crime of which Darrow's best friend was convicted, this scandal leaves Caldwell College vulnerable, and Darrow accepts the challenge.

It's an intriguing premise, but it never really pans out.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By a VINE VOICE on August 14, 2009
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I really enjoyed Richard North Patterson's latest and found myself hooked within the first few pages. The idea of a former college football star coming back to his old college as school president sixteen years later to handle a crisis, while suddenly re-investigating an old, presumably solved murder case, struck me as a brilliant premise, and it was handled very well. Clearly a skilled writer, Patterson slowly reveals clues while amplifying characterizations, constructing a murder mystery alongside a seemingly unconnected financial mystery with a poignant, if slightly underdeveloped, love story forming its emotional center. One might argue that the novel's middle is a little flabby with dialogue-heavy chapters as the protagonist informally interviews person after person involved in the sixteen-year-old murder of student Angela Hall. However, all great murder mystery novels use this device, and while it can be tedious in the hands of a less skilled author, I found myself eagerly turning page after page even when two characters are sitting in a diner, chatting over coffee.

The most surprising part of my reading experience was the novel's ultimate predictability. In no way am I skilled at guessing the endings of books; indeed, quite the opposite. I'm usually guessing until the final chapter and always am I most surprised at the end. Strangely, I had this one figured out about fifty pages in, and was both pleased and disappointed when every subsequent clue simply confirmed what seemed to be the obvious outcome from the start. Yet I remain steadfast in giving this novel a glowing review because it is well written and, even though I was able to figure it out well in advance of the protagonist, I very much enjoyed the ride. Four big stars, minus one because, in the end, I was hoping for a little out of the blue twist that never materialized. Still, highly recommended!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Jeremy on September 9, 2009
Format: Hardcover
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.
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