Shadow of the Lions

Shadow of the Lions

by Christopher Swann

Overview: In the middle of his senior year at the Blackburne School in Virginia, Matthias Glassís roommate and best friend Fritz Davenport runs off into the woods after the two boys have an argument--and vanishes without a trace. Ever since, Matthias has felt responsible, thinking that their fight, about a betrayal of the schoolís honor code, led to Fritzís disappearance.

A decade later, after an early triumph with his first novel, followed by too much partying and too little work, Matthias realizes he has stalled out and become a failure as a writer, a boyfriend, a man. So when he is offered a job at Blackburne as an English teacher, he sees it as a chance to put his life back together. But once on campus, Matthias gets swiftly drawn into the past and is driven to find out what happened to Fritz. Along the way he must reckon with Fritzís complicated and powerful Washington, D.C., family and the shocking death of a student--and begin to understand his own place in the privileged world of Blackburne.

In the spirit of film noir, Shadow of the Lions takes plenty of dark, surprising twists--itís a thriller, but also a moving debut that is as much about the mystery as it is about the redemption of a broken friendship and a lost soul.

Deanna Boe (12/05/17): This is an excellent mystery story! At the same time it is also a story of friendships, memories of school, first love, breaking of rules, in short, those precious high school years and how they affect our lives in the many years to come. It also points out how little we might actually know about those we love the most and what they might be experiencing in their lives and donít share. This is a first novel by Christopher Swann and I can only hope there will be more. I was fortunate enough to hear this author speak recently at the Roswell library. He told how he wanted to be an author/writer in the 8th grade but didnít quite know how to pursue it. Swann noticed that many authors had been teachers and decided that was the field of study he would select. Interestingly enough, he did just that and teaches literature at a private school here in Atlanta; he is not a young author, in short it took him awhile to achieve that goal he had set out for himself back in the 8th grade.

Swannís style of writing simply flows and is reminiscent of other stories about those high school years in private schools. I.e. Dead Poets Society and Separate Peace to name just two. Never-the-less, Swann owns his own style. The storyline is intriguing and it isnít until the very end that you finally realize just what has been the driving force throughout the narrative. I hesitate to say too much because I donít want to spoil your enjoyment of reading this novel. Unlike too many novels I have read, this time I had no clue as to why this friend had simply disappeared, where he had gone or even if he was actually dead. To me, that makes for an outstanding writer and I think you will agree.
Rating: ****+

Debbie Weiss (12/03/17): This is the first published novel by this Atlanta author. Christopher Swann is an English teacher at a private school in the Atlanta area and I saw him speak in September at the Decatur Book Festival. The book sounded really interesting so I decided to give it a try. It was one of the best books that I have read in a while.

Matthias Glass has returned to the boarding school that he attended 10 years ago to teach and become part of the faculty. The fact that his roommate had disappeared just prior to graduation has haunted him all these years. Fritz was never found. Now one of his students has died and Matthias is having a difficult time handling this second mysterious occurrance.  He becomes obsessed with picking up the investigation into Fritz's whereabouts.

Christopher Swann's writing is creative and literary. The character development is excellent. I look forward to Mr. Swann's next book and I highly recommend Shadow of the Lions.
Rating: ****+

Marilyn Baron (09/12/17): Shadow of the Lions by Christopher Swann was engrossing, intriguing and satisfying from beginning to end. A disappearance and a death at the same elite private boyís boarding school has a ripple effect on a number of lives, especially the life of the protagonist, Matthias Glass, who was a student and later a teacher at the school. The author does an excellent job of portraying how Matthias deals or doesnít deal with the lasting repercussions of his best friend and roommate Fritzís disappearance and how the death of a current student draws him back into the past. It is at the same time a literary thriller with elements of mystery and suspense (even romance) and the author does them all well. I highly recommend this book and look forward to more books from this debut author
Rating: *****

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