cover image A Quiet Teacher

A Quiet Teacher

Adam Oyebanji. Severn, $29.99 (224p) ISBN 978-1-44830-942-9

Greg Abimbola, the protagonist of this labyrinthine mystery from Oyebanji (Braking Day), teaches languages at Pittsburgh’s elite Calderhill Academy. A Black teacher at a very white school, Greg focuses on conversational Russian and prefers reading Pushkin novels to socializing. Then the murder of a student’s mother on school grounds shreds Greg’s protective bubble of culture and literature. Unprepared for the attention the murder case brings to Calderhill, Greg is dismayed to see the academy’s racist tendencies and administrative inefficiencies come to the fore. But those revelations are nothing compared to Greg’s secrets, such as the personal vice that he refers to as the Devil. The more he tries to help, the less private his life becomes. When Greg’s closest friend is arrested for the murder, he decides he must draw on his experiences in his dangerous former life to prove her innocence. The tension rises as the action enters espionage territory, though the surfeit of characters and the initially slow pace will frustrate some. Along the way to the satisfying ending, Oyebanji smoothly inserts commentary on topical social and political issues. Readers will eagerly await his next mystery. Agent: Brady McReynolds, JABberwocky Literary. (Nov.)