But every so often there's a boy who doesn't fit the mould. A troublemaker. A boy with hidden shadows inside. With insolvency and academic failure looming, a new broom has arrived at the venerable school, bringing PowerPoint, sharp suits and even sixth-form girls to the dusty corridors. But while Straitley does his sardonic best to resist this march to the future, a shadow from his past is stirring. A boy who even 20 years on haunts his teacher's dreams. A boy capable of bad things.
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By Rachel Redford on 09-05-16
Fifteen hours of skilfully drip-fed darkness!
I loved this! Skilfully drip-fed to reveal the darkness, two narrative voices tell this tale of apparently buried scandal at St Oswald's Grammar School in fictional Malbry. One is Roy Straitley old-school Latin teacher who peppers his account with Latin lines, fiercely loyal to the school and his special 'Brodie boys' which are his life; and Ziggy, a boy who spent only a short time at St Oswald's but whose evil seeps through everything that happened there from that time so many years ago. The audiobook voices are just right: Straitley's strictly moral, out-dated mind-set conveyed by Stephen Pacey, and Ziggy's deluded, frightening and evil manipulation conveyed in Ewan Goddard's much higher-pitched wheedling.
St Oswald's has been enveloped and almost destroyed by terrible events which are slowly revealed: the death of a pupil and the imprisonment of a much-loved member of staff. A Crisis Team is brought in to save the school - representing all the management speak and high tech business practices loathed by Straitley. But worst of all, the new Head-in-a-suit is Harrrington, an ex-pupil whom Straitley had always disliked and distrusted. The new management is all for moving forward, but Ziggy's narrative gradually reveals the truth behind all the hideous events at St Oswald's, ensuring that the past events, far from being forgotten, continue to fester and erupt into jealousy-fuelled violence involving an increasing circle of victims - or are they perpetrators?.
It's a very complex plot and to give more away would spoil the listening, but it is no coincidence that Operation Yewtree blew up whilst Joanne Harris was writing the book. Dark themes are explored. What do you really know about what goes on in the darkness of your friends' minds? How can the abuser and the victim become entangled and change roles? Can the church, therapy or Juries be relied on to produce the truth?
29 of 30 people found this review helpful
By Ms. Caroline A. Wilde on 25-03-17
Listen to Gentlemen & Players first. These two stories are exceptionally well written and told. Best I've read/heard for some years. Highly recommended. Would make an outstanding and gripping TV series.
9 of 9 people found this review helpful