Tuesday, October 30, 2007

The Chatham School Affair

The Chatham School Affair by Thomas H. Cook is an excellent mystery. It deserved the 1997 Edgar award. The Chatham School Affair was originally published in 1996. My hardcover copy is 292 pages.

In The Chatham School Affair, attorney Henry Griswald has a secret: the truth behind the tragic events the world knew as the Chatham School Affair. The novel is narrated by a mature Griswald years after the events unfolded. The controversial tragedy destroyed five lives, shattered a quiet community, and forever scarred Henry. Since this compelling mystery is revealed slowly, layer after layer, The tensions builds right at the start of the novel, with Miss Elizabeth Channing's arrival at the school as the new art teacher and Henry reads the quote from her father, "For life is best lived at the edge of Folly." It is a stunning portrait of a woman, a school, and a town in which passionate violence seems impossible…and inevitable.

From Amazon:
"In 1926 Henry Griswald was a kid, a student of the lovely and unusual Elizabeth Channing, who had recently arrived in his coastal Massachusetts village to teach art at a private school run by his father. Decades later, the people of Henry's village are still racked by guilt and troubled by uncertainty--who, or what, drove Miss Channing to madness and murder? Henry Griswald, narrator of The Chatham School Affair, holds the key. Using the same dark, brooding tone that permeated Breakheart Hill, Thomas Cook has crafted a disturbing yet entertaining psychological thriller. "


"It was then that I should have glimpsed it, I suppose, the fact that she had lived in many different worlds, that they now lived in her, strange and kaleidoscopic, her mind a play of scenes."

"It was more than I could bear. And so I wheeled around and walked back through the courtyard and down the central corridor of the building and then swiftly out of it, like someone in flight from a surging fire."

"She smiled... then spoke a line that life forever proves to be a lie, "Take as much as you want, Henry. There is plenty."

"I might have experienced love up close and through all its changing seasons, and by doing that, come to feel spring as something other than a cruel deception, winter the dreadful truth of things."

" Life is inadequate, Henry... Sometimes the most we can give, or get, is trust."

"I thought of the line in Mr. Channing's book - Life is best lived at the edge of folly - and suddenly it seemed to me that of all the reckless, ill-considered lies I'd ever heard, this was the deepest, the gravest, the most designed to lead us to destruction."

The Chatham School Affair is an excellent mystery and I highly recommend it.

1 comment:

1morechapter said...

I loved this book when I read it 1-2 years after it came out. I went on to read Breakheart Hill and another one of his that I liked very much.

Cook is an excellent writer!