The Spire

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"Mark Darrow grew up in a small Ohio town with no real advantages beyond his intelligence and athletic ability. But thanks to the intervention of Lionel Farr - a professor at Caldwell, the local college - Darrow became an excellent student and, later, a superb trial lawyer. Now Farr asks his still-youthful protege for a life-altering favor. An embezzlement scandal has threatened Caldwell's very existence - would Darrow consider becoming its new president?" Darrow accepts, but returning to his alma mater opens old wounds. Sixteen years ago, on the ...

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The Spire: A Novel

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"Mark Darrow grew up in a small Ohio town with no real advantages beyond his intelligence and athletic ability. But thanks to the intervention of Lionel Farr - a professor at Caldwell, the local college - Darrow became an excellent student and, later, a superb trial lawyer. Now Farr asks his still-youthful protege for a life-altering favor. An embezzlement scandal has threatened Caldwell's very existence - would Darrow consider becoming its new president?" Darrow accepts, but returning to his alma mater opens old wounds. Sixteen years ago, on the night of his greatest triumph as Caldwell's star quarterback, he discovered the body of a black female student named Angela Hall at the base of the Spire, the bell tower that dominates the leafy campus. His best friend, Steve Tillman, was charged with Angela's murder and ultimately sent to prison for life. But now, even as Darrow begins the daunting task of leading Caldwell, he discovers that the case against his friend left crucial questions unanswered. Despite his new obligations - and his deepening attachment to Farr's beautiful though troubled daughter - Darrow begins his own inquiry into the murder and soon becomes convinced that Angela's killer is still at large. But only when another mysterious death occurs does he understand that his own life is in great danger.

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Editorial Reviews

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.
Library Journal
Patterson turns from political hot potatoes like the Arab-Israeli conflict (Exile) and oil in Africa (Eclipse) to write this intriguing novel of psychological suspense. Character development is key here; we meet Mark Darrow, a young football player who receives a scholarship to Caldwell, a local private college; his best friend, Steve Tillman, who is in prison for a murder he may not have committed; and Lionel Farr, the professor who becomes Darrow's mentor and closest friend. Darrow leaves Caldwell for law school and fame as a defense attorney until Farr asks him to return as the college's president. The current president is under investigation for embezzlement, and someone popular enough and persuasive enough is needed to keep the alumni money flowing in. For Darrow, going home again means reexamining old friend Steve's conviction and investigating the embezzlement, making some people very uncomfortable. Then another murder occurs, and the suspense intensifies until the shocking conclusion of this tightly plotted story. VERDICT Sure to please fans of Raymond Chandler, Michael Connelly, and James Lee Burke. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 5/1/09.]—Stacy Alesi, Palm Beach Cty. Lib. Syst., Boca Raton, FL
Kirkus Reviews
The normally reliable Patterson (Eclipse, 2009, etc.) disappoints with this tale of a new college president who insists on putting an old murder at the top of his agenda. Sixteen years ago, black scholarship student Angela Hall was murdered and her body dumped at the base of the bell tower that serves as the focal point of Caldwell College's campus. Under pressure from college officials, the Wayne, Ohio, police promptly arrested football player Steve Tillman. The case was straightforward. Steve had gotten drunk after a Caldwell football victory; hooked up with Angela despite racist remarks he'd earlier made to her twin brother Carl; and passed out with scratch marks from her fingernails on his back and no memory of the rest of the night. Now Steve's best friend, football hero Mark Darrow, has returned to Caldwell from his successful Boston criminal-law practice at the behest of his old mentor, Prof. Lionel Farr. Mark is taking over the college presidency from Clark Durbin, forced to resign ostensibly for health problems but actually for embezzling nearly $1 million, though Durbin insists he didn't touch it. Accepting the job with due reticence, Mark soon finds himself confronted by exactly the sorts of problems you'd expect: a professor who needs an immediate leave to deal with her husband's suicide, another accused of sexual harassment, a host of alumni who want to know why they should empty their pockets for a school with such a checkered history. So naturally he decides to focus his energies on falling in love with Farr's daughter Taylor, ten years his junior, and on reopening the investigation of Angela's murder despite the universal sense that there's nothing to reopen. It's amazingthat a pro like Patterson could have miscalculated so badly everything from the cluttered prologue, with its flashbacks within flashbacks, to the screamingly obvious identity of the villain to Mark's dreamy-eyed behavior when he finally realizes who he's up against. Wait till next year.
From the Publisher

The New York Times Book Review

Torn from the headlines…Exile delivers.

Compulsively readable.
The Washington Post

One intense courtroom clash after another...An intelligent and gripping thriller.
The Boston Globe

Flamboyant and entertaining.
The Cleveland Plain Dealer

Washington Post

"Passionate…exciting [and] eye-opening, page by page."
Richmond Times-Dispatch

With verve, intelligence, passion and humanity, Patterson tells an important story--and one that may find a place with Advise and Consent and Seven Days in May on the shelf of honored political thrillers.
San Francisco Chronicle

Nearly flawless--by the time you realize how well Patterson is writing, you are already caught up in this novel.
New York Daily News

Suspenseful--pervasive danger as real as the actual reality.
Providence Sunday Journal

A terrific legal thriller populated by rich, well drawn characters [Patterson] magnificently brings to life. Not to be missed.

Absorbing…timely…a gripping read.
Seattle Post-Intelligencer

An electrifying page-turner.
USA Today

New York Post

Required reading.
Grand Rapid Press

Will get your blood boiling…
Entertainment Weekly

A slick new entertainment…Frank Capra idealism meets Karl Rove reality.
Bill Clinton

Astonishing, hugely entertaining.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780594503019
  • Publisher: Holt, Henry & Company, Inc.
  • Publication date: 9/1/2009
  • Pages: 384
  • Product dimensions: 6.50 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.40 (d)

Meet the Author

RICHARD NORTH PATTERSON is the author of Degree of Guilt, Eclipse, The Race, Exile, and more than a dozen 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 on Martha's Vineyard and in San Francisco and Cabo San Lucas with his wife, Dr. Nancy Clair.

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Read an Excerpt

Sixteen years after the murder of Angela Hall had precipitated the decline of Caldwell College, Mark Darrow returned to campus, standing in the shadow of the Spire.

Darrow had come at the urgent request of Dr. Lionel Farr, his professor and mentor, one of the seminal figures in Caldwell’s history and in Darrow’s life. It was the end of the spring semester and blossoming dogwood trees, set between generous oaks, brightened the landscape with pink. Even here, Darrow could detect Farr’s influence; since becoming provost, Lionel Farr had overseen the planting of pine trees and neatly tended gardens, giving the foliage both variety and order. But the buildings spaced throughout had no par tic u lar theme: the oldest—elaborate brownstones with Gothic steeples and towers— were mixed with square, staid structures from the late nineteenth century and newer buildings in a variety of architectural styles, some more nondescript than others. As a student, Darrow had found this hodgepodge engaging, a stone- and- brick record of the growth of Caldwell College over time. Though the campus would never resemble that of a picture- book college, these structures had housed generations of students and nurtured much learning— including, as Darrow gratefully remembered, his own.

The current students looked much like Darrow’s classmates had all those years ago. With the subdued, somewhat dazed look of college kids facing finals, they wandered past him, taking little notice, Darrow reflected wryly, of the former campus legend, now a latethirtyish lawyer in a business suit, headed for his meeting with the presidential search committee of a small Ohio school in crisis. Then Darrow looked up at the Spire, recalling the most vivid hours of his youth, and all trace of humor vanished.

Erected two de cades before the Civil War by the school’s found er, the Reverend Charles Caldwell, the tower remained as Caldwell had intended: the epicenter of campus, with four brick pathways radiating outward like spokes, the other buildings set at an appropriate, almost reverent distance. At its base was chiseled, Christ, the Chief Cornerstone. From there, at Caldwell’s insistence, over two hundred feet of sandstone rose above everything but sky.

The found er’s aspirations had been realized— the Spire dominated both the landscape and the psyche of Caldwell College. Its image graced the yearbook, the alumni magazine, the school’s letterhead, and, for over 160 years, had decorated every diploma issued to a graduate of Caldwell. Part of Darrow’s fraternity initiation had been to memorize Webster’s definition of a spire: “a structure that tapers to a point at the top, as in a steeple.” Just below the steeple, in a space with four long openings, the great bell of the college hung, its deep resonant clang reserved for moments of celebration or sadness. The lawn beneath the Spire was the scene of graduations, weddings, pep rallies, and memorial ser vices. In the week before Caldwell’s annual football grudge match with its hated rival, Ohio Lutheran, students guarded it at night from vandals: by long tradition, the Spire was where, if Caldwell emerged triumphant, the celebration would begin. It was on such a Saturday in November that a twenty- one- year- old Mark Darrow had ascended the Spire for the first and only time, never imagining that, within hours, this memory, and this place, would turn dark for all the years that followed.

A scant hour before, Mark had thrown the last of four touchdown passes, sealing Ohio Lutheran’s defeat; Coach Fiske, whose privilege this was, had designated Mark to ring the bell atop the Spire. Very rarely was a student admitted to the bell tower— the Spire’s oaken door had been padlocked since 1938, when a drunken celebrant had fallen from the Spire to his death. The new president, Clark Durbin, had opened the door for Mark and passed him the ceremonial bronze axe with the chip in its blade, the spoils of Caldwell’s victory. Then Mark stepped inside.

Alone, he paused inside the shadowy tower, filled with awe and reluctance. Since early childhood, Mark had loathed confined spaces; the absence of light frightened and depressed him. The winding staircase, dark and dank and steep, led, in Mark’s imagination, to a chamber suitable to druids or high priests. Battling claustrophobia, conscious of his responsibility to commence the celebration, Mark started climbing. He felt his chest tighten, a nameless terror choking his breathing. As a distraction, he counted each stone step to confirm that— as his fraternity had also required him to remember— the Spire had 207 steps, each one foot high.

Reaching the top at last, Mark opened its door. The square chamber was bare, its mortared stone walls adding to its severity. Hanging over him was a massive brass bell. Mark’s other aversion was heights: though the four long openings of the tower began at his waist, he approached the one he had chosen gingerly, as though some invisible hand might send him hurtling into space. But as he surveyed the throng below, a surge of triumph overcame his fear.

The lawn was covered with students, many of whom had already embarked on an alcohol- fueled bacchanalia that, for some, might last until dawn. Among them stood Lionel Farr, his wife, Anne, and their twelve- year- old daughter, Taylor, who had waited with the others for Mark to appear. Mark spotted them and then, for Farr more than anyone, he brandished the axe, his grin of triumph spreading as Taylor waved back with an adolescent’s adoration. Seeing him, the crowd let loose with a deep- throated roar. Then, heart pounding, Mark reached for the heavy iron chain . . .

Staring up at the tower, Darrow could still hear the deep tolling whose echo had nearly deafened him. But now there were spotlights placed around the Spire, so that darkness never came here. This, too, was the work of Lionel Farr.

The moments before he had first met Farr— an encounter that changed his life forever— were also imprinted in Darrow’s memory.

He had been a seventeen- year- old in a small Ohio town, a star football player but a middling student. With no real family or any future he could see, he hoped only to wrest one timeless moment from a high school athlete’s transient glory. His chance came down to the last play of his final game as quarterback of the Wayne Generals. The air was crisp, carrying the smell of popcorn and burnt leaves; the field, a bowl of light in the darkness, reverberated with the enthusiasm of a football town of seventeen thousand, perhaps half of them here huddled against the cold, screaming and stomping the wooden bleachers with booted feet, the small minority of blacks quieter and seated in their own clusters. There were six yards to go, four seconds left, three points between Wayne and its first defeat in an otherwise perfect season. The Generals broke the huddle, seven linemen in blue jerseys loping toward the line of scrimmage, their shadows moving alongside, as Mark, two running backs, and a flanker spread out behind them. Opposite them was the Cloverdale defense, eleven boys in green uniforms, their four defensive backs— poised to thwart a pass or run— portraits of taut alertness.

For an instant Mark took it all in— the light and darkness, the primal roar of the crowd, the illuminated clock frozen at 0:04. Pulsing with adrenaline, he positioned himself, setting his hands between the center’s legs, conscious of his halfback, George Garrison, slightly behind and to the right. Time slowed for Mark; the cadence of his

voice seemed to come from somewhere else.

The ball snapped into his hands.

Spinning, Mark slid the ball into George’s stomach, then withdrew it as George, the decoy, hit the line as though determined to break through. Alone, Mark sprinted toward the sideline with the ball. Two linebackers ran parallel, barring his path to the end zone while his own blockers fanned in front of him. Without seeming to look, Mark saw the flanker, Steve Tillman, suddenly break toward the center of the field, two feet ahead of the back assigned to cover him.

At once Mark decided. Stopping abruptly, he threw the ball, praying that Steve would reach it before it fell to earth. Desperately, Steve leaped, feet leaving the grass as he stretched, arms extended, grasping at the ball. Then he clasped it, clutching it to his stomach as he landed near the goal line amid the crowd’s thin cry of uncertainty, awaiting the referee’s signal that Steve had either reached it or fallen short, the difference between victory and defeat.

Mark’s heart raced. Then, gazing down at Steve, the referee thrust both hands into the air.

Tears came to Mark’s eyes, a swift surge of joy and loss. This was it, he was certain: the last clear triumph of his life.

The first teammate to reach him, George Garrison, hugged him, his round black face alight. But when Steve Tillman wedged between them, George turned away. “You’re the best,” Steve said. When Mark reached out for George, he was gone.

The next half hour was a blur— the screaming crowd; the shouted questions from sports reporters; the celebration in the locker room, joyous yet shadowed by the se niors’ awareness, so vivid in Mark’s mind, that this was the end, deepened by his own deflating knowledge that he had no plan or even hope for where his life might take him now. When he emerged into the chill night with Steve, his sole vision of the future was to take Steve’s station wagon and, armed with beer and whiskey, meet two girls at the reservoir.

A man stood in their path, hands thrust into his pockets. “Mark?”

Mark paused, impatient to be on his way, regarding the stranger with mild annoyance. “I’m Lionel Farr,” the man said in a voice of calm authority. “I teach at Caldwell College.”

Though Mark had met other professors at Caldwell— all of them parents of his classmates— Farr looked like none of them. An inch or two taller than Mark, Farr had strong features and the erect posture of an athlete or a soldier. Unlike most of the townspeople, he was bareheaded; instead of a jacket, he wore an olive wool coat, belted at the waist, adding to his martial air. Nodding to Steve, Farr asked Mark, “Can we talk for a moment?”

Shooting a glance at his friend, who was obviously mystified, Mark saw George Garrison leaving with a pretty classmate, Angela Hall. He thought to call out to them; then, not knowing the black girl, and aware of Steve and George’s aversion to each other, he stified the thought. “I’ll meet you at the car,” he told Steve.

Steve walked away, casting a last look of bemusement toward his friend. Turning to Farr, Mark said, “What is it?”

The brusque inquiry evoked the trace of a smile. “I’ve been watching you all season,” Farr responded. “You have great presence of mind and understand the game. You could play football in college.”

Mark shook his head. “Too small, too slow.”

Farr continued to look amused. “I didn’t mean at Ohio State. The right college— Division III- A, where small but slow has a chance to survive.”

Mark shook his head, feeling the obscure resentment of someone being baited. “Those schools don’t give scholarships. For grades, maybe, but not football.”

“What are your college plans?”

Mark looked down. “I don’t know. Money’s a problem.” He hesitated. “So’s my transcript.”

Farr waited until Mark met his eyes. “I understand. I know something about your life, Mark. The money and grades seem to be re


Instinctively, Mark bridled at this intimation of sympathy.

“I have friends at the high school,” Farr added mildly. “I hope you don’t mind that I did a little checking.”

In the semidarkness, Mark studied the professor’s face. “It sort of depends on the reason.”

Despite Mark’s curtness, Farr looked unfazed. “A good one, I think. But this isn’t the time and place to discuss it. My wife and I would like you to come for dinner.”

Mark was unsettled. He did not know this man at all, let alone what this was about. Seeing Mark’s reluctance, Farr continued, “Why don’t we say Monday. You can come to my four o’clock class, then home with me. A small taste of college life.”

Bereft of words, Mark responded to the stranger’s understated but palpable force of personality. “I guess so. Sure.”

“Good. I’ll call the Tillmans with directions.”

With this last suggestion that Farr was uncomfortably conversant with Mark’s life, Farr extended his hand.

As though responding to an order, Mark took it.

Years later, Mark Darrow wondered if his interest in justice and morality, the seeds of his law career, had wakened that next Monday in Farr’s four o’clock seminar.

Mark did not know the campus; for him it existed as a rarefied world, in which young people smarter and more privileged than him engaged in a mysterious rite of passage, learning punctuated by drunken parties. “Brundage Hall is behind the Spire,” Dr. Farr had told him, and so he made his way toward the tower, which before he had only glimpsed above the trees that shrouded the campus. He took one path, then another, until the campus opened to the large grassy circle at its heart. Positioned at the center of the circle, the Spire was austere but strangely powerful: weathered and stained by time, it was topped by a graceful steeple so high that Mark had to lean back to see it. Hurrying past, he managed to find Farr’s class.

Dressed in boots, khakis, and a wool fisherman’s sweater, Farr paused momentarily in his lecture, nodding briefly to Mark as he found a desk in one corner of the musty classroom. Turning back to the dozen or so students clustered near the front, Farr said, “Friedrich Nietz sche was hardly the first phi los o pher to challenge the concept of objective morality. Who were his most convincing pre de ces sors?”

Several hands shot up; Farr pointed to a bearded, red- haired kid in an army jacket. “Callicles and Thrasymachus,” he answered, “in Plato’s dialogues. Both argued that the idea of ‘justice’ is a sham, a subjective means of social control, and that therefore a wise man subverts ‘justice’ to his own ends.”

“Then what makes Nietz sche distinctive?”

The redhead answered swiftly, eagerly: “He attacked two thousand years of Western thought, where phi los o phers promoted ‘morality’ as a kind of social glue.”

Farr nodded. After barely a minute, Mark had grasped how completely he commanded the classroom, how intensely the students wanted his approval or, at least, to interest him. “So if moralists are charlatans or fools, Mr. Clyde, what did Nietz sche think was at the root of our foolishness?”

“Religion,” a pudgy student in wire- rimmed glasses responded. “The Christians and Jews were weak; the Romans who ruled them were strong. Therefore these religions used the idea of morality as a defense against the Romans, who, by accepting ‘morality,’ would be more likely to allow them to survive.”

“If,” Farr asked, “our most sacred moral precepts—even the Ten Commandments— are merely a tactical invention of the weak, what does that imply?”

Mark felt the desire to object— he had learned the Ten Commandments in Sunday school, and the subordination of self from astring of coaches. “Racism,” a dark- haired female student said sharply. “If Jews are weak, and morality a fantasy they invented to survive, there’s no reason not to exterminate them.”

Farr gave her an arid smile. “To be fair, Nietz sche also says some rather nasty things about Christians, Germans, and his fellow philosophers.”

“But he can be read to justify evil.” Glancing at her notes, the young woman read, “ ‘As the wicked enjoy a hundred kinds of happiness of which the virtuous have no inkling, so do they possess a hundred kinds of beauty.’ Hitler would have agreed.”

Farr eyed her narrowly, his leonine head still, as though deciding whether to play this out. “What is Nietz sche positing about man’s inherent nature?”

“It suggests that we have within us the desire to be cruel and the need to dominate.”

Farr cocked his head. “Let’s put that to the test, Ms. Rosenberg. Suppose you ordered one of your classmates whipped or beaten. How would you feel?”

I couldn’t do that, Mark thought automatically. The young woman answered promptly, “I’d feel guilty.”

Farr’s cool blue eyes glinted. “To Nietz sche, justice is merely a mechanism through which the state exerts its will, dressing it up in moral sentiments to disguise its exercise of power. What does this do to the concept of guilt?”

The woman hesitated. “That it only exists in our own minds,” a clean- cut blond man interjected. “Nietz sche suggests that guilt is a mechanism of social control, keeping us from exercising our own free will.”

Once again, Farr nodded briskly. Mark felt the relationship between teacher and class as an organic entity, in which, directed by Farr, minds fed upon one another.

As the debate continued, Mark was surprised to discover that he grasped its core: Does whoever is in authority make the rules to suit themselves, or are some rules a simple matter of right and wrong? “For our next discussion,” Farr concluded, “I ask you to consider your own nature. Do you refrain from theft or rape or murder because you’re afraid of getting caught or because you’d feel guilty? And, if so, is your guilt based on anything more than what you’ve been trained to feel?” A smile played on Farr’s lips. “I expect an answer from each of you by Thursday.”

With that, the students began slowly filing out, as though still pondering the question. Picking up a trim leather briefcase, Farr asked in a tone of mild inquiry, “Do you have an answer, Mark?”

Looking up at the keen face of this professor, Mark felt the same need to please him he had seen in the others, even as he tried to find the bones of a response. Instinctively, he said, “I don’t think the rules were just made up. If there weren’t any, we’d all end up killing each other. You can’t always count on being the strongest.”

Farr laughed softly. “I should introduce you to Thomas Hobbes. We can talk about him on the way home.”

A few minutes later, Mark entered yet another world.

The Farrs’ home, a rambling red- brick structure located on a tree-lined street, was strikingly different from the shotgun ranch house Mark had lived in for most of his seventeen years. It dated back to the 1850s, Farr explained. Lovingly restored, the living room featured a hardwood floor covered by rich- looking Oriental rugs; shelves filled with hardcover books; and paintings that, because they resembled nothing in life, Mark assumed to be modern art. But perhaps most striking was Anne Farr, extending her hand with a smile at once gracious and reserved, her jet- black hair showing the first few strands of gray, her handsome, chiseled face so pale Mark thought of porcelain, her eastern accent suggesting what people called good breeding. “Excuse me while I see to dinner,” she told him pleasantly. “You two just enjoy yourselves.”

Excerpted from Spire by Richard North Patterson.

Copyright © 2009 by Richard North Patterson.

Published in September 2009 by Henry Holt and Company.

All rights reserved. This work is protected under copyright laws and reproduction is strictly prohibited. Permission to reproduce the material in any manner or medium must be secured from the Publisher.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 54 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 54 Customer Reviews
  • Posted May 15, 2010

    nice "who done it"...

    if you read a lot of mystery "who done it", you may be able to figure it out...nice read.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted September 4, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Spike It

    The author describes this novel as a "psychological thriller' and that is his right. The fact that it has little thrill is the judgment of the reader. It's surprising that such a talented author can write such an uninteresting book. A woman has been killed, the wrong man imprisoned, and all signs point to another man as the killer. So, of course, he couldn't be the one. Not if there was supposed to be psychological thrills. Unfortunately, it doesn't take much for regular thriller readers to figure out who the real killer is. There go the thrills, and the book was only halfway over.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 16, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Fascinatingly the suspense is not driven by action, but by how deep Richard North Patterson enables his fans to know Mark

    Football star Mark Darrow receives an athletic scholarship to play at Caldwell College in Wayne, Ohio. While there he discovers the corpse of African-American student Angela Hall. The police arrests Mark's best friend Steve Tillman, who is convicted for murdering the coed.

    While Mark goes on to law school and becomes a nationally prominent defense attorney, Steve remains in prison insisting he is innocent. Sixteen years since Angela was murdered, Caldwell College is in deep trouble over an embezzlement scandal of a just under a million dollar endowment. Desperate to save the college, Mark's former mentor at the school and current Provost Professor Lionel Farr asks him to return as the school president so that alumni money does not stop. He agrees as a favor for his friend. However, he also looks into the embezzlement that got his predecessor in trouble and the homicide that has locked away his best friend. His efforts has some people wanting him stopped anyway they can even murder.

    Fascinatingly the suspense is not driven by action, but by how deep Richard North Patterson enables his fans to know Mark; thus everything that he does or occurs to him is enhanced by him seeming like a relative or close friend. His escapades to learn the truth then and now places the hero in danger from someone who wants the facts to remain interred and if necessary inter the amateur sleuth. Fans will enjoy SPIRE simply because of the dedicated obstinate Mark, who is The Little Engine That Could (die).

    Harriet Klausner

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 23, 2013

    Very good read

    I found it hard to get into the book but once i did, it had a gripping plot with an unexpected ending

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 10, 2012

    A real dud

    Wouldn't recomment this book at all. Plot was weak kept going back and forth. Really wouldn't recomment it. His other books have been much better.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 25, 2012

    Personally I didn't like this book at all. The book was filled

    Personally I didn't like this book at all. The book was filled with all these off the wall words that you had to spend time thinking about what they meant. If he meant to dazzle us with his use of big words instead it just made for heavy reading. I like to be entertained not sent back to college. I thought this truly was a boring book.

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  • Posted January 3, 2012

    Engaging story

    Although I knew "who did it" quite early in the book (and wondered why it took our "superman" hero so long to figure it out, the book was entertaining and a good read, overall.

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  • Posted May 24, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Not My Favorite

    This one was a hard read for me. The author used a LOT of big words that made me feel like I needed to have a pocket dictionary with me. I struggled through the pages. I can usually read a paperback in 1 week and this one took me 2. The plot was good though and I didn't see the ending until it was upon me at the very end. I thought I had figured out who the killer was but was wrong. All in all, this book was just okay for me as it moved a little slow and awkward at first by bouncing back and forth from present to past.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 28, 2010

    Great Book

    It will keep you reading nonstop!!!

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  • Posted February 20, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    this is one of the best. could not stop listening.

    if you like a mystery this one is really great.

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  • Posted January 30, 2010

    Great Book

    This book kept me on pins and needles until the end. Usually I can figure out the killer half way through a book, on this one I guess wrong. The author Richard North Patterson did a wonderful job on this book.

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  • Posted November 17, 2009

    Another page turner from a great author

    I started reading Richard North Patterson's books a number of years ago and always look for his latest. I read this in three days in September, so you know it it good.

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  • Posted November 16, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    Good but not up to his standard

    This book had an interesting plot and character development. It is worth reading but just not up to Richard North Patterson's standards. For a great book by this author read "Exiled".

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 13, 2009

    Good Old Fashioned Mystery Thriller

    It's a good mystery story with a surprise ending. Not as political or complex as Richard North Patterson's other novels. Easy reading. Good for those who enjoy light story telling novels. Not Patterson's best novel but a good read.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 12, 2009

    Terrific Reading

    This is a "can't put it down book" One of the best books that Richard North Patterson has written. The plot twists and you won't believe the who the guilty party is. Exceptional!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 11, 2009

    good quick reading

    follows the basic formula.
    nice short chapters, makes for quick, easy,
    light reading.
    All the books this guy write always look forward
    to reading.
    Sheer pleasure

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 11, 2009

    Worth your time!

    This book was much better than I thought it was going to be. The storyline really captured my attention, and the characters were all interesting on more than a surface level.

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  • Posted October 28, 2009

    Patterson's worst!

    I've been a fan of Patterson for years, looking forward to each new work. In my opinion. Patterson's best work compares to some good Ken Follet novels. In context of his overall work, The Spire is a complete disappointment. Others have noted the ponderous, stilted dialog - it is that bad. More generally, much of the prose is unworthy of a writing workshop excercise. I nearly slammed the book shut after the third description of mildly humid Ohio weather. The romance seems just an excuse to cut and paste a few sex scenes from any of a thousand other novels. The final plot twists are implausible and the finale is just cheap.

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  • Posted October 26, 2009

    more from this reviewer


    Not up to his usual standards.

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  • Posted October 8, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Writing Style Made This Book Difficult to Read

    Not being familiar with this author I maybe gave up on this book a little prematurely. The first hundred pages the author jumps back and forth between flashbacks and then flashbacks within flashbacks, which made my head spin and had me rereading earlier pages to figure out what characters he was talking about.

    The story focuses on Mark Darrow who is a lawyer who is indebted to a benefactor law professor named Farr. Farr took an interest in Darrow in high school and helped him better his academic performance and get into a college instead of Darrow going on to be a high school football coach.

    Darrow's best friend in high school and college is serving a long sentence for murdering a girl (Angela Hall) during their college years. Farr persuades Darrow (now a successful lawyer) to take over as college president (apparently the current president is being ousted for embezzling school funds).

    While the book description sounds great I had a difficult time slogging through the writing style and tried to force myself to finish the book through normal reading rather than skip to the ending. Knowing the author is well reviewed I will not give up and will perhaps try one of his other books.

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