Shadow of the Lions

The night after Matthias Glass arrives at Blackburne, a prestigious prep school in the mountains of Virginia, he sobs with homesickness into his pillow. Soon, however, a schedule of rigorous classes and a tight circle of friends appease his loneliness. His closest friend is Fritz Davenport, a Blackburne golden boy and the son of rich parents. He seems destined for greatness, but after a fight with Matthias their senior year, Fritz takes off into the woods and is never seen again. Ten years later, Matthias returns to Blackburne as a teacher and failed novelist. When another student goes missing, Matthias is overcome by memories of Fritz and decides to investigate his disappearance. What follows is a riveting literary mystery about power, privilege and the need to find the truth no matter how devastating it might be.

Shadow of the Lions is Christopher Swann's debut, but it unfolds with a maturity characteristic of works by more seasoned novelists. A product of boarding school himself, Swann is now the chair of an English department at a private school in Georgia. It perhaps comes as little surprise, then, that this mystery is so well observed: its richly drawn characters are motivated by circumstances that feel true to life, and they speak with a rare authenticity. Swann also demonstrates a talent for setting--his Virginia woods feel either menacing or soothing depending on who enters them. Unsettling and beautifully written, Shadow of the Lions challenges the idea that we ever truly leave high school behind. --Amy Brady, freelance writer and editor

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