Friday, June 10, 2011

Review of the Day: The Chatham School Affair

Thomas H. Cook channeled his inner Daphne Du Maurier for his Edgar-winning mystery, The Chatham School Affair. This modern gothic extravaganza is narrated by the now-elderly Henry Griswald, who has finally taken it on himself to explain what really happened at Black Pond 70 years ago.

Henry was a teenager in 1926 when Elizabeth Channing arrived to teach art at his father's boarding school in Chatham, Massachusetts, a provincial town on Cape Cod. Her beauty and worldly ways antagonize the puritans of the town, but captivate her fellow teacher, Leland Reed. Henry is swept away by the romance and adventure of their relationship, becoming more of an accomplice than a neutral observer.

Henry spins the story out bit by bit, each scene heavy with melodrama and ominous foreshadowing. It is difficult to keep the suspense building with this kind of "historical account" technique, but Cook handles it well, never giving away more than what is necessary to move the story forward.

If the story drags a bit in parts and some scenes are a bit overwrought, that is a reasonable price to pay for what is, overall, a rich and well-crafted novel.


If you would like your review of this or any of Thomas H. Cook's other novels listed here, please leave a comment with a link and I will add it.


Here is list of all the Edgar Award winners.  This won in 1997.


  1. Sounds just my cup of tea! I like the reminiscing part specially.

  2. I only had to read this: Thomas H. Cook channeled his inner Daphne Du Maurier ... to know that I want this one! :) But I did read the rest of the review as well. I love gothic type books and I'm pretty cool with some dragging here and there if the story makes it worthwhile. :)


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