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The Ancient Nine

Review

The Ancient Nine

There’s an irresistible mystery surrounding Harvard’s deep past. It involves their unique men-only clubs that seek out the elite of society. The most highly coveted among these “final clubs” is the Delphic. Way back in 1927, a student who broke into the off-limits Delphic mansion disappeared inside and was never seen again.

Now, freshman Spenser Collins, class of ’91, has been selected to try for the Delphic. Hearing the story of the missing student raises his curiosity to a fever pitch. Spenser is a very bright young man and an excellent athlete, but a long shot even for Harvard, not to mention an exclusive organization like the Delphic. So why was he chosen for this most prestigious of clubs on campus? His new friend, Dalton Winthrop, would be a far more likely candidate, coming from vast wealth and a grand old family. In fact, Winthrop’s uncle was a Delphic member, and rumored to be part of a shadowy inner circle called the Ancient Nine, a group that holds massive amounts of power. Enough to kill for? Spenser needs to know, especially if he’s to become a part of the Delphic.

"Secret societies, a disappearing student, a hidden room, a suspicious death --- all the makings of a superb thriller. Author Ian K. Smith draws on his own experience with the Harvard final clubs, injecting authenticity into every rich layer."

For his part, Dalton finds the Delphic’s interest in Spenser almost as much a mystery as the sinister disappearance of the student long ago. He warns Spenser that things may not be quite what they seem, so when Spenser attends the various functions where the members choose the “punchees,” he stays on high alert. He is enjoying himself but comes away ever more mystified by the questions they ask him and the knowledge they appear to have about him. Even though the young men he meets act as though they like him, Spenser remains puzzled by being asked to join. He really is an odd choice.

All of the unknowns become simply too much for the pair of friends to ignore, so they launch their own investigation. They want to solve the mystery surrounding the missing student, but in doing so they discover further intrigues --- for instance, missing pages from a priceless book. Is this a clue to what transpired in 1927? Spenser hounds librarians, searches old books and talks to learned professors, while Dalton’s research takes on a different form. At one point, they even take a drive to visit Dalton’s aging uncle, one of the Ancient Nine. He has some surprises for the young men.

Strange things occur the more they delve into the past --- and not simply strange, but alarming as well. Almost from the start, Spenser believes he’s being followed. He hears footsteps in the dark and sees a figure tailing him more than once. He learns, early on, to watch his back. Dalton, on the other hand, doesn’t want to believe that the venerable old club would do anything disturbing. But then there’s an oddly timed death. Plus, they start receiving cryptic warnings to back off. Meanwhile, they’re still college students fighting to maintain their studies, and Spenser has a busy schedule with his basketball. Then he falls hard for a girl.

Secret societies, a disappearing student, a hidden room, a suspicious death --- all the makings of a superb thriller. Author Ian K. Smith draws on his own experience with the Harvard final clubs, injecting authenticity into every rich layer. And he wraps it all around campus life and young infatuation.

Reviewed by Kate Ayers on September 21, 2018

The Ancient Nine
by Ian K. Smith

  • Publication Date: September 18, 2018
  • Genres: Fiction, Suspense, Thriller
  • Hardcover: 432 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press
  • ISBN-10: 1250182395
  • ISBN-13: 9781250182395