cover image A Narrow Door

A Narrow Door

Joanne Harris. Pegasus Crime, $26.95 (448p) ISBN 978-1-64313-905-0

In 2006, Rebecca Buckfast, the protagonist of Harris’s enthralling third thriller set at St. Oswald’s (after 2016’s Different Class), becomes the first female head in the Yorkshire school’s 500-year history. Before her appointment, St. Oswald’s was a bastion of male entitlement. Under Rebecca’s reign, girls have been admitted and change is in the air. At the building site of the new sports hall, four of Latin master Roy Straitley’s students see what might be a body, partially submerged in a muddy sinkhole. They tell Straitley, who takes the matter to Rebecca, but he senses that she already knows about the body. With Scheherazade-like skill, she tells Straitley her tale, teasing out the story over the coming weeks. Rebecca’s account of the devastating effects that her older brother’s disappearance had on her family, and events that subsequently took place in 1989 when she was a substitute teacher at his grammar school, alternate with excerpts from Straitley’s 2006 diary. Harris keeps the suspense high all the way to the exhilarating ending. This spectacular feat of storytelling will seduce the reader from page one. Agent: Michael Carlisle, InkWell Management. (Jan.)