The Faculty Club: A Thriller

The Faculty Club: A Thriller

by Danny Tobey

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Overview

At the world’s most exclusive law school, there’s a secret society rumored to catapult its members to fame and fortune. Everyone is dying to get in . . .

Jeremy Davis is the rising star of his first-year class. He’s got a plum job with the best professor on campus. He’s caught the eye of a dazzling Rhodes scholar named Daphne. But something dark is stirring behind the ivy. When a mysterious club promises success beyond his wildest dreams, Jeremy uncovers a macabre secret older than the university itself. In a race against time, Jeremy must stop an ancient ritual that will sacrifice the lives of those he loves most and blur the lines between good and evil.

In this extraordinary debut thriller, Danny Tobey offers a fascinating glimpse into the rarefied world of an elite New England school and the unthinkable dangers that lie within its gates. He deftly weaves a tale of primeval secrets and betrayal into an ingenious brain teaser that will keep readers up late into the night.

Packed with enigmatic professors, secret codes, hidden tunnels, and sinister villains, The Faculty Club establishes Danny Tobey as this season’s most thrilling new author.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781439154304
Publisher: Atria Books
Publication date: 04/05/2011
Pages: 336
Product dimensions: 5.30(w) x 8.10(h) x 1.00(d)

Read an Excerpt

1

I remember my mother’s reaction when I got accepted to the greatest law school in the world. She dropped the stack of mail in her hand, said, “Baby,” and started crying. My dad’s reaction was harder to place. He just said, “Oh.” Not an indifferent, uninterested Oh, and not a surprised Oh either. This Oh was quiet, a little puzzled, and maybe even a little sad—a recognition that, in less than a second, the possibilities of my life had just radically shifted from those of his own.

We live in a small town in Texas called Lamar. My father is a schoolteacher, loved by his students and popular in the community, yet the years of hard work have worn him down, and by the time I reached high school, he’d settled into the strange conviction that he was meaningless in the universe. This terrified me. Death didn’t scare me. Risk didn’t scare me. But my father’s dissatisfaction—in the face of a good life, a loving family, a meaningful job—that left me lost.

The greatest law school in the world. That doesn’t really describe it at all. It’s more of a black box with an almost comically small sign, a stone building that turns out presidents, diplomats, CEOs, senators, you name it. The class size is tiny; more people apply per spot than for any other position in the world. There are no tours, no interviews, no brochures. It’s not even clear if they actually teach any law. It’s a well-known joke that graduates don’t know anything, yet somehow they become the most accomplished and powerful people in the world.

I come from a small town in Texas. I don’t know anyone famous. I went to a college you’ve never heard of and live in my parents’ basement. But I worked like crazy, graduated first in my class, got a perfect score on the LSAT, and published in a law journal before I was twenty. Was I thrilled to get in? Absolutely. Was I surprised? Maybe I was. Did I deserve it? You bet your ass.

The greatest law school in the world.

That sounded like a pretty good deal to me.

The first time I saw my home for the next three years, it was a crisp morning and there were deep pools of fog between the hills spotted with stone towers and yellow trees, cemeteries and playgrounds. It seemed like you could roll down those hills into a dream and never come out. I was lost in this sudden rush of New Englandness, until the sun came out and burned up all the fog, and then it was a bright September day.

On the way to my first class, I stopped to watch a group of tourists gathered around a statue. Some were Japanese; one couple was speaking Italian. Most were American families on college tours. The high school kids were only a few years younger than I was, but somehow they looked innocent, naive to me.

“As you can see from the plaque, this is a statue of our university’s founder,” said the tour guide, a bubbly, red-cheeked student who came off like a game show host in training. “We like to say that this statue tells three lies. First, our founder was unfortunately not this handsome. He hired a young philosophy student to pose in his place.” People in the crowd turned to smile and chuckle at their loved ones. “The second lie is the date. Here, it says 1647. But our university was actually founded in 1641. No one knows why the wrong date was engraved here . . .”

I looked at my watch. Class in five minutes. I had to run before I could hear the third lie.

My first class was called Justice. It was taught by perhaps the most famous professor at the school, a man named Ernesto Bernini. Professor Bernini wrote the book on the philosophy of law. He was also the former attorney general of the United States.

The classroom itself was a work of art. The lower walls were paneled in dark cherrywood, while the high walls and ceilings were light cream, covered by portraits of past deans and a full wall of stained glass windows, each one coming to life as the sun moved behind it. I sat up near the top; the rows of chairs sloped down in a half-circle to a single lectern at the heart of the room.

I took a seat and watched the room fill with students. There was an electric buzz of excitement, a hundred rapid conversations I couldn’t make out. Some students looked like they came from New England prep schools, with ruffled hair and blazers, crisp blouses and smart pants; I saw hipsters with spiky hair and iPods, straight from NYU or Columbia; still others came from Big Ten schools in the Midwest, wearing khakis and button-down plaid shirts, sweats and baseball caps. Everyone seemed better looking than average, with an easy charm that filled the room. And it occurred to me that I knew nothing about these people: the hipster might be from Kansas; the blazered, spectacled prep-schooler might actually be a public-school kid from Oklahoma. This was a place of reinvention. At this school, at this moment, whatever we decided to be was possible.

A young black man in a coat and tie sat down next to me. “Nigel,” he said, offering me his hand. I was surprised to hear a British accent. He was crisp and curt, but he had a wry, mischievous smile.

“Jeremy,” I said. He grinned, then turned to open his laptop.

I didn’t see Professor Bernini walk to the podium. I just heard his quiet throat-clearing, and the room fell silent.

His sprightly eyes moved over the crowd.

“Each year,” he said, in a soft, singsong voice, “I come here to greet the new students.” He was a small man, but he radiated power—from his eyes, from his hands, the casual way they draped over the lectern. “Each year, I get older, and you remain young, vital, and curious.” He had a twinkle in his eyes that reminded me of an elf, something from A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

“The study of law is a life’s pursuit. This is not physics or math, where you are over-the-hill at thirty. Law is reason, but it is also experience and wisdom, and so law is time.” He paused to lay a creased, spotted hand across his brow. “Good news for little old men.” The class laughed as he gently shook his head.

I realized then how frail he looked, how his spine bent forward and his skin was paper-thin. But his eyes were alive and shining. He consulted his seating chart, tapped his finger on it, then walked to the front row and looked down at a blond student.

“Suppose, Mr. Anderson, you are kidnapped from your room this evening, drugged, and abducted. When you awaken, you find yourself in a mine cart that is hurtling down a track at tremendous speed. Ahead of you, you see five children playing on the rails. You call out, but they can’t hear you over the roar of the cart. They are too close for you to stop in time.” Bernini shook his head, feeling the weight of the situation. “There is no question they will die.”

The blond student met his eyes.

“John Anderson,” Nigel whispered into my ear. “Rhodes scholar. Former president of the Harvard debate team.”

The professor continued. “Now suppose there is a lever you could pull that will change the direction of your cart, placing you on another track. This track has only one child playing on it.” His eyes twinkled. “What do you do?”

John Anderson met his gaze confidently.

“I would pull the lever,” he said.

“Why?”

“Because five deaths is worse than one death.”

“I see. But I wonder, Mr. Anderson, if your logic holds. Suppose you were in a hospital, and you had the chance to kill one patient to provide organs for five others? Would you do it?”

“Of course not.”

The professor smiled politely. “The trade-off hasn’t changed. One life for five, yes? And yet your answer is now opposite?”

“But a hospital—you’re supposed to protect people . . .”

“The child on the track doesn’t deserve protection?”

Anderson stared at the professor. His mouth worked to form a response. Finally, he said something so quiet it was lost to everyone but him.

The professor walked a couple of seats down.

“Ms. Goodwin, please help Mr. Anderson out. Would you pull the lever?”

“Daphne Goodwin,” Nigel said under his breath. “Former editor in chief of the Yale Daily News. Triple crown winner: Rhodes, Marshall, and Truman scholarships.” And, he failed to mention, one of the most uncomfortably attractive people I’d ever seen. Her hair was midnight black, pulled into a luxurious ponytail. Her lips were painted red against lightly tanned skin. She had blue eyes that sparkled from across the room. Her face was set in a permanently skeptical expression, eyebrows raised, lips somewhere between a frown and a smirk: it was aggressive and erotic.

“I would do nothing,” she said, folding her thin hands in front of her.

“Nothing, Ms. Goodwin?”

“If I pull the lever, I am causing the death of a child.”

“And if you don’t pull the lever, five children will die.”

“But I didn’t cause that. I didn’t create the situation. But I won’t pull the lever and, by my action, kill a child.”

“I see. Are you sure?”

She paused, looking for the trap. Then she said, “Yes.”

“So, Ms. Goodwin, by your logic, if there were five children on your track, and no child on the other track, we couldn’t blame you for not pulling the lever, because you didn’t cause their death?”

She froze. “I didn’t say that . . . I mean, that’s not what I meant.”

“Mr. Davis, can you help us?”

I was still looking at Daphne Goodwin’s bright blue eyes when it dawned on me that Ernesto Bernini had called my name. Two hundred faces were now following his gaze and turning to look at me. Silence filled the room. I felt my heart stop like a needle skidding off a record. Four hundred of the most brilliant eyes in the world were now burning holes in me.

“Yes?” I answered weakly.

“What would you do?”

I felt panic in every nerve of my body. My future was sitting all around me, watching.

I paused and chose my words carefully.

“I can’t say what I’d do, sir. It’s a terrible situation. Either I cause the death of a child by my action, or I allow five children to die by my inaction. Any way I choose, I lose something. If I had to decide, I would. But as long as it’s just an academic exercise, I respectfully decline to answer.”

Those flickering elfish eyes were boring right through me. I was pretty sure I was about to get sent home to Texas, possibly with idiot tattooed on my forehead.

Finally, he spoke.

“Fair enough, Mr. Davis. In here, it is just an exercise. But someday, you may have to choose. Should you send soldiers to war? Should you sign a law that will help some and harm others? And I wonder, Mr. Davis. Will you be ready?”

“Amazing,” Nigel said to me as we packed up our books. “He actually called on you. You must hang the stars! But who are you? I mean, no offense, but I know everybody, and I’ve never heard of Jeremy Davis.”

“I’m no one. Really. No Rhodes scholarship, no editor in chief of anything. And I botched that question anyway. Refusing to answer! What was I thinking?”

“Hey, I thought it was cool. Buck the system and all that. The point is, he knew your name. On the first day! That man makes presidents. All I can say is, you’re generating quite a buzz for yourself. She doesn’t cast her glance casually.”

Nigel nodded across the room. I looked just in time to catch the blue eyes of Daphne Goodwin, before she tossed her hair and turned away.

“Anyway, you remind me of a young Bill Clinton,” Nigel said, rising and ruffling my hair on his way out. “And I’m going to ride your coattails the whole damn way.”

I spent the afternoon running errands. The campus bookstore was a two-story building nestled between an old-timey tailor and a hamburger place called Easy’s. I needed to buy books for the rest of my first semester classes: Contracts (taught by Professor Gruber, a round man with short arms and thick square glasses that made his eyes look a hundred yards away), Property (with Professor Ramirez, a severe woman with a long pinched nose and watery eyes), Constitutional Law (Professor Müeling, accent of undetermined origin), and of course, Torts. It would take me almost a week to figure out what a tort even was, but basically, if I punch you in the face, or if you slip on some ice while crossing my yard, that’s a tort.

I searched for a book called Trial Skills and grabbed it. I planned on trying out for the Thomas Bennett Mock Trial, one of the law school’s oldest traditions. Whoever won that was basically guaranteed a Supreme Court clerkship, as long as they didn’t find some other way to flame out.

I carried the heavy stack of books, and it seemed like I had the whole universe of human behavior in my hands: what we promise each other and how we harm each other; what we can take and what can’t be taken away.

I bought three boxes of highlighters and a package of those colored sticky tabs.

When I checked my mailbox that evening in the student lounge, it was empty, except for a handwritten note:

Come to my office, it said.

Signed, —E.B.

© 2010 Danny Tobey

Reading Group Guide

This reading group guide for The Faculty Club includes an introduction, discussion questions, ideas for enhancing your book club, and a Q&A with author Danny Tobey. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book.

Introduction

When Jeremy Davis arrives at the most prestigious law school in the country, it seems as if he has little in common with the former Rhodes scholars that litter his incoming class. That all changes, however, when he is asked to be the personal researcher of the most respected and well-connected professor at his school, Ernesto Bernini. Before long, Jeremy finds himself swept into a life of cocktail parties and black-tie receptions shrouded in mystery, and learns that he is fighting for a spot in the V&D, a secret club that everyone assumes is the pinnacle of academic and intellectual achievement.

When Jeremy is asked to hand back his key to Professor Bernini’s office, however, and it becomes clear that he will not become a member of the V&D, his world begins to crumble around him. He learns that he can trust no one, his friends become his enemies, and his wildest dreams transform into his worst nightmares. When left with the decision to abandon the semester or pursue an education that he never bargained for, Jeremy chooses the latter, and with his remaining sidekicks attempts to expose the V&D for what it truly is. Though he is not the first to try, will he be the first to live to share his discovery?

Questions for Discussion

  1. Arthur Peabody was an interesting juxtaposition to Ernesto Bernini throughout the novel. Though he was taken less seriously by the students, so much so that he earned the nickname Humpty Dumpty, it certainly seemed that he was much more on their side. Why do you think he chose to try to help Jeremy, and what do you think his relationship was to the V&D? Was he once a member, or did he simply know too much for his own good after working with Bernini for so many years?
  2. Was Jeremy too harsh to Sarah during the mock trial, or do you think he had the right to extract the truth about her past by any means necessary? Do you think he fully realized what the consequences would be when he did it?
  3. Why do you think Sarah ultimately decided to forgive Jeremy? After her humiliation and attempted suicide it seemed as though despite his persistence she was never going to speak to him again. Do you think Jeremy would have forgiven Sarah if their roles were reversed?
  4. When Jeremy lifts himself up through the crawl space and finds himself in his room at the end of Chapter 21, the stakes of his involvement with the V&D are raised considerably. Do you think he was placed in that specific room because he was being considered for the V&D from the beginning, or was it a coincidence? Is it likely that Daphne, Nigel, and John had similar entrances into their rooms?
  5. Isabella’s insights on voodoo in Chapter 25 are quite powerful because it is so personal for her. Her definition of voodoo as “introspection . . . into the unknown” (p. 197) is both thought provoking and haunting for Jeremy, Miles, and Sarah as they delve deeper into their search. What relationship do you think voodoo has with what Jeremy finds the V&D are actually performing? Is it an entirely different practice, or simply a derivative of something that they don’t fully understand?
  6. What did you make of Nigel giving Jeremy the bound book of articles? Do you think there were any genuine feelings of friendship and camaraderie from Nigel, or was he simply trying to stall until the other V&D members arrived to carry out whatever they had in store for Jeremy?
  7. If you were Jeremy’s brother Mike, would you have refused to help him? Should it be Mike’s choice to decide what’s in Jeremy’s best interest, or should he have simply done what he was told to help protect his brother?
  8. The puzzles that Jeremy, Miles, and Sarah solve to preserve their lives during the search for Bernini are tailored to their specific areas of interest in order to be solvable and lure them into the trap that eventually catches Sarah. Why do you think Bernini decided to allow them to get so close and left open the possibility of them surviving? Was it arrogance, misjudgment, or was Bernini willing to be exposed if someone proved to be smarter than him?
  9. Miles’ philosophical musings after Sarah falls down the trap door and he and Jeremy are debating whether or not to return to look for her, suggest that he convinces himself that it is not morally wrong to leave her. Jeremy clearly disagrees, responding with the line, “you’re talking about goodness, and she’s down there,” (p. 279). Where do you fall in this debate? Was it foolish for Jeremy to return, or was it their moral duty to try and help her? Are you able to forgive Miles for the decision he made?
  10. What do you think was ultimately responsible for Miles leaving the motel? Was he overwhelmingly in love with Isabella? Was he too ashamed to face Sarah and Jeremy? Did he think they would never make it back alive and decided to hold fast to his aforementioned philosophical principles?
  11. Do you think John, Nigel, and Daphne will appreciate what Jeremy did for them, or do you see them holding a lifelong grudge? Could they ever be friends again?
  12. If Jeremy had made it into the V&D, do you think he would have felt regret for any of his actions? Would he have tried to reconcile with Sarah? Would he have sought out advice from Miles? And perhaps most important what would he have done as an insider once he discovered the truth about their beliefs?



Tips to Enhance Your Book Club

1. Many books and films have been devoted to the secret student societies of America’s oldest and most prestigious universities. Perhaps the most famous is Yale’s Skull and Bones, a secret society that counted several U.S. presidents as members. What is it about these secret clubs that captures our imaginations? Check out one of the numerous books published on the subject such as Alexandra Robbins’ Secrets of the Tomb: Skull and Bones, the Ivy League, and the Hidden Paths of Power or enjoy one of the fictionalized film incarnations, most recently The Skulls starring Joshua Jackson and Paul Walker.

2. While Isabella provides a very brief history lesson on voodoo origins, it is hardly enough to quench one’s curiosity. Dip into the history of voodoo in America by taking a virtual tour of the New Orleans Historic Voodoo Museum at: www.voodoomuseum.com. Don’t forget to check out the historical origins of what has become our modern idea of zombies!

3. On the first day of law school Professor Bernini poses the following question to the class:

“Suppose, Mr. Anderson, you are kidnapped from your room this evening, drugged, and abducted. When you awaken, you find yourself in a mine cart that is hurtling down a track at tremendous speed. Ahead of you, you see five children playing on the rails. You call out, but they can’t hear you over the roar of the cart. They are too close for you to stop in time . . . There is no question they will die . . . Now suppose there is a lever you could pull that will change the direction of your cart, placing you on another track. This track has only one child playing on it . . . What do you do?” (p. 4–5).

Daphne, John, and Jeremy are all called upon for answers and all provide different ones. Split your reading group into three groups and give each group one of these positions. Have a short debate defending these three stances.

Regardless of your debate position, which do you ultimately think is right?

A Conversation with Danny Tobey

Q. Like Jeremy, you grew up in Texas and went to an Ivy League law school; surely this story couldn’t have mirrored your personal experiences too much, right? How much of your experiences as an undergrad and law student did you draw from for this novel and how much of it is infused with imagination?

A. Hmm, some of both! A lot of the lore is very real. There really is a statue with three lies at Harvard. There really are four tasks you’re supposed to do before graduating. And there really is a rumor that one secret society at Harvard promises its initiates a million dollars by the time they turn thirty. Unfortunately, I wasn’t in it! I think a lot of Jeremy’s emotions are very real, too. I was coming from a public school in Texas, and I spent the whole first semester at Harvard in awe. On the first day, they asked us to raise our hands if we’d been the valedictorian or salutatorian of our high school. It seemed like the entire room raised its hand! That was one of those “I’m not in Kansas anymore moments.” And there are steam tunnels of course, but I never did find a good entrance . . .

Q. The law school where the story takes place is, seemingly intentionally, never named. Was this due to torn loyalties between your two alma maters, Harvard and Yale, or were there other motivations for this?

A That’s a great question—I really did feel torn about which school to pick. And, at the end of the day, I thought it might be scarier not to name the school . . . as if Jeremy is okay with telling the story, but it’s best not to say too much. There’s definitely some of both schools in the book: Harvard’s red bricks and Yale’s gray towers. And the big hydroelectric power plant that sends giant clouds of vapor into their air was out my dorm room window at Yale. It was a strange thing to look at every day.

Q. You were the winner of the prestigious Edgar Eager prize at Harvard, awarded for the best creative writing. As a result, did you feel a lot of pressure to become a successful novelist? How did you feel when Jodi Reamer, the agent for the famous Twilight Saga agreed to represent you?

A. I’ve been writing my whole life, and I always feel pressure! I love it, so I have to do it. But writing a novel is a crazy experience, because it’s so solitary. You write four hundred pages with no feedback and then think: what on earth did I just do? Winning that award was helpful, in terms of gaining a little confidence. But hearing back from Jodi and getting to work with her was a much bigger moment. I mean, she picked Twilight out of the blue! That was the moment I thought, hmm, maybe I can do this.

Q. How were you able to find time to write a novel while also holding down your day job as an associate attorney at a law firm? Do you try to write every day, or do you thrive on fits of inspiration?

A. Actually, I wrote The Faculty Club in school. Practicing law is fascinating, and I have great clients and co-workers. They’ve been incredibly supportive of The Faculty Club. These days I write in my spare time, mainly on slow weekends, so it takes much longer than when I was in school. . . . I’m too old for all-nighters!

Q. Did you make up some of the puzzles that Jeremy and his crew were forced to solve while you were writing, or were they dug up in your research for the novel?

A. I made them up, but they’re based on real ideas that I researched. The homunculus really is a funny little cartoon from neuroscience. And, there are also “homunculi” in alchemy lore. So I thought, that’s a great coincidence. I need to play with that, because the book really is “neurology meets alchemy.” The Ship of Theseus is a real philosophy riddle that I learned at Harvard. But I made up the idea of having an actual boat and river with a deadly booby trap attached. My thought was: forget the late night dorm room bull sessions—what if you had seconds to turn a philosophical debate into a life-saving plan of action?

Q. While there is little doubt that The Faculty Club is a top-notch thriller for adults, the subject matter may cause it to resonate with college and prospective college students even more. Do you see this work as a having a specific target audience, or did you set out to make it accessible to as wide a range of readers as possible?

A. It sounds corny, but my only rule when writing is “have fun.” I figure, if I’m having fun, the reader will too. Or at least I’m sure the opposite is true: if I’m not having fun with a scene, I really doubt anyone else will! So, I don’t think in terms of target audience or anything like that. But I gave an early copy of The Faculty Club to my brother-in-law, who’s in college, and he devoured it in one day and passed it to all his friends. That meant a ton to me, because the book is set at a university, and if college kids like it, that means I passed the b.s. test! Honestly, nothing would make me happier than appealing across age groups. I mean, from Huck Finn to Harry Potter, that’s what the best books do. There are just some emotions that speak to every age group. And if you’re lucky enough to tap into those, that’s when a book really connects with people.

Q. It is difficult to read this novel without thinking what a great film it would make. Are there any plans to turn this into a movie in the future, and if so, would you want to play a role in adapting it? Who would you cast?

A. Definitely! We are so lucky to have the film agent Kassie Evashevski handling our movie rights. She’s the one who turned the Twilight saga into three huge movies. And she’s also working on the American film version of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, another stunning novel. I can’t wait to see Jeremy being chased by the Puppet Man through the steam tunnels! Hmm, what actors? There are too many great ones to choose from. In the Harry Potter movies, Gary Oldman was so good as Sirius Black! Wouldn’t he make an incredible Arthur Peabody? And I’d cut Ms. Silver’s age in half just to see Cate Blanchette chew up the scene in the Manhatten penthouse. Would I like to be personally involved? Sure, but only as much as I’m wanted—I do think movies and books work their magic in different ways, and not being a slave to the book is key for making the movie work on its own terms. But I’m okay with that, because I love good movies.

Q. Did you have an interest in voodoo before writing and researching the novel, or did it simply come in handy as a great way to manipulate the twists and turns of the plot? If you didn’t have an interest, did you develop one while writing this?

A. Honestly, I didn’t know a single thing about voodoo before I started writing—just the stuff you see in movies, which is pretty removed from the real culture. Voodoo came into the story because I put myself in the villains’ shoes and said: okay, we’ve got this nefarious goal . . . how do we make it happen? But once I decided on their plan, I tried to read up on the history of voodoo. It’s a rich culture that spans thousands of years, the transatlantic slave trade, and the American melting pot. That’s a fascinating story, and while The Faculty Club is a fun book and not a serious piece of anthropology, I still wanted to do justice to the culture and make it clear that what the faculty was up to was their own crazy perversion of this tradition. That’s a key line when Miles jokes about assembly-line voodoo. This really was, in a tongue-in-cheek way, a play on the idea of Western civilization appropriating other cultures for their own designs. Sort of Avatar meets Dead Poets Society. :)

Q. Honestly, do you think you would have been more like Jeremy or Miles when it came to going back to look for Sarah at the end of the novel?

A. Oh, tough question! Who knows? I’d like to believe I’d do the right thing—and a lot faster than Jeremy did. But it’s so easy to say that, which is why I didn’t let Jeremy go after Sarah right away. He had to build up to that leap of faith. He had to see the alternative in Miles—what he’d become if he didn’t at least try to save Sarah. I love plenty of books where the hero is just unnaturally brave. But I wanted Jeremy to be like most people, myself included, full of conflict but trying to live up to his higher self.

Q. Who are your favorite authors to read? Do you prefer reading other thriller writers like Brad Thor and John Grisham, or do you go in an entirely different direction when reading for pleasure?

A. I read all kinds of books. Thrillers are great—when life is crazy, that’s where I turn. It’s funny you mention those two authors. I love John Grisham. For me, he’s the quintessential example of that special feeling you get when a book pulls you in instantly and you just feel comfortable living in its world for a while. If people come close to feeling that way about The Faculty Club, I’d be ecstatic. And I’m reading Brad Thor right now, which is bad for my sleep patterns! He really keeps you hooked. My favorite non-thriller books recently are Cormac McCarthy’s The Road, Michael Chabon’s The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, and Philip Roth’s The Human Stain. And I love really good science fiction, like Stanislaw Lem’s Fiasco and just about anything by Kurt Vonnegut. One of my all-time weirdest life experiences was meeting Vonnegut in college. He asked me to get him a drink, which I had no idea how to make, but I was too embarrassed to say so. So I mixed a bunch of random things together, discovered there were no stirrers, then stirred his drink with my finger in a guilty moment. He drank the whole thing and never said anything unkind. That’s really a terrible story, but my heart was in the right place. The man wrote Cat’s Cradle. I just wanted to get him his drink.

Q. What projects are you currently working on? Do you have any plans for Jeremy Davis?

A. Absolutely. We haven’t seen the last of Jeremy. I think the next time we find him, he’ll be back in rural Texas, with a small law practice. But it’s hard to leave the past behind, and a new case will take a very unexpected turn. In the meantime, I just finished writing my second book, which takes place in a totally new setting with new characters, including a psychiatrist named Charlie West. But around page 350 there’s a surprise cameo, involving someone else from The Faculty Club. I don’t want to say too much more, but a few big questions get answered.

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The Faculty Club: A Thriller 3.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 21 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book started out well but ended up with the characters in absurd underground spaces and people turned into zombies.
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Christine Ellefson More than 1 year ago
This+would+make+a+very+good+adventure+for+a+movie.+My+fellow+Texan+does+a+great+job+with+his+first+novel.+I+can%27t+wait+for+the+next+adventure%21
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Tanya Parker More than 1 year ago
As others have said, the beginning is good. Then the plot turns completely and utterly ridiculous. I am sorry I wasted money on this.
Delia-blue More than 1 year ago
This book sounded good from the inside cover. However, once I started reading it, I realized that this book was going downhill fast. I had to stop reading it. It made no sense.