Favorite Quotes on Books and Reading

"A book is a gift you can open again and again." Garrison Keillor

Literature is a textually transmitted disease, normally contracted in childhood.” Jane Yolen

"It is what you read when you don't have to that determines what you will be when you can't help it." Oscar Wilde

"Books have furnished, burnished, and enabled my life." Julia Keller

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Day 86: Book 85 THE TWISTED THREAD

It's often fascinating reading about the rich, as many of us aspire to having more and we just presume that the rich are so much better off in their elite society. A little slice of life with insight into the elite presented in THE TWISTED THREAD begs to differ. The reader is brought into the world of privileged teens attending a mythical boarding school, Armitage Academy, in New England. We are then introduced to Claire Harkness and she remains a character throughout the story even though she has been murdered. The questions raised are why was she murdered and where is her baby? Hard to believe that someone can hide a pregnancy especially at a boarding school, but we only have to read the headlines to know that this happens more often than not in the teenage population. Claire isn't exactly ashamed of her pregnancy, she actually wants to use it to try and humiliate the school and perhaps her parents. 
Madeline Christopher is a recent college graduate and a new teacher and therefore considered inconsequential by many of the staff (and students) at Armitage. She, like Claire, is a product of divorced parents of wealth, but she survives and seems to have a strong sense or morality, ethics and responsibility that many of her students are lacking. It is Madeline that discerns immediately that Claire must have recently given birth after seeing the dead body and questions another student about the infant's whereabouts. This begins a massive search by local police and the FBI on and around the campus of these privileged youth. Madeline also embarks on an amateur investigation into what made Claire tick and what has happened. She finds out that there are often societies within societies as she uncovers the "Reign of Terror" group, and that appearances aren't always what they seem. Although initially started as a support group for the female students at Armitage, it has become much more over the years. Does this group play a role in Claire's death? As Madeline uncovers more about the "reign" and their terror tactics, including getting a scholarship student to leave, she finds herself the target of the remaining reign members. She isn't intimidated by their tactics but is initially shocked when she finds out that her sister was a member of this elitist group. What does shock her is the notion these girls have that they can do anything and get away with it simply as a result of their wealth.
The murder brings up many flaws in the history of Armitage. For example, Fred Naylor, art teacher, is the grandson of a previous headmaster. He must deal with the emotions raised when he finds out his grandfather wasn't the morally upstanding man he thought when he finds out about a scandal during his grandfather's tenure. That scandal mirrors the current in that it resulted in a student's death, but that death was simply brushed away and erased from the school's history . . . or was it? Matt Corelli is a detective assigned to the case and an Armitage graduate. He suffered during his time at Armitage and is hesitant in someways to return. He was falsely accused of cheating when it was his roommate that stole his work. The roommate was wealthy and Matt was a scholarship student, guess who the faculty believed? Will his prejudices against the school overshadow his investigation?
This is more than just a "whodunit" mystery based at an elite boarding school. Ms. Bacon's introduces us to characters than run the socioeconomic gamut but they all play pivotal roles in this story. What do  the school handyman, his mother and his mothers caregiver have in common with the school and the murder victim? At first glance it appears that the answer is nothing, but we find out more about lives transecting as we read more and more, not only about Madeline, Matt and Fred, but also about Claire. 
We ultimately learn what made Claire who she was before her death and that she was more than the cool, calm, collected teenager she presented. Madeline learns that she isn't the weaker sibling nor is she simply the lowly intern. Matt discovers that he is rather proud of his time at Armitage despite the problems encountered there because they have helped to make him the man he is today. Fred ultimately discovers that he doesn't have to follow in his grandfather's footsteps, he can forge his own path. These discoveries are at the heart of this story and yes we discover "whodunit" but if you want to know more you'll have to read the book on its release. 
This is a well-written, must read for the mystery lover. Look for it on June 14.

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