Gentlemen and Players

Gentlemen and Players

A Novel

Book - 2006
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Baker & Taylor
For generations, privileged young men have attended the elite St. Oswald's School for Boys, but as the new term gets under way, a number of increasingly devastating incidents occurs, including murder, leaving the unraveling school in the hands of the only person who can save it, Roy Straitley. Reader's Guide available. Reprint. 60,000 first printing.


For generations, privileged young men have attended St. Oswald's Grammar School for Boys, groomed for success by the likes of Roy Straitley, the eccentric Classics teacher who has been a fixture there for more than thirty years. This year, however, the wind of unwelcome change is blowing, and Straitley is finally, reluctantly, contemplating retirement. As the new term gets under way, a number of incidents befall students and faculty alike, beginning as small annoyances but soon escalating in both number and consequence. St. Oswald's is unraveling, and only Straitley stands in the way of its ruin. But he faces a formidable opponent with a bitter grudge and a master strategy that has been meticulously planned to the final, deadly move.

& Taylor

As the new term gets under way at the elite St. Oswald's Grammar School for Boys, a number of increasingly devastating incidents occurs, leaving the unraveling school in the hands of the only person who can save it, Roy Straitley.

Publisher: New York : William Morrow, c2006
Edition: 1st ed
ISBN: 9780060559151
Characteristics: 422 p. ; 24 cm
Alternative Title: Gentlemen & players


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An excellent story, complex plot with just the right amount of resolution at the end but still leaving the reader thinking 'what if' and 'what about..." Joanne Harris you are on my must read list now.

Jan 27, 2017

One of the most devious, deceptive novels of crime and vengeance I've read in a very long time. Joanne Harris is well known for her nuanced character development; here she has exceeded herself, presenting two narrators and examining the motivations and personalities of both of them to an astonishing degree while at the same time keeping the reader in the dark about secrets held by each of them. This is quite a trick and she pulls it off brilliantly.
Along with a superb murder mystery, there's also something else going on here, a social and societal subtext without which the story could not have been made to work. That subtext is a toxic British class system that engenders such deep resentment on both sides that the arrogant, privileged classes on one hand and the ignorant and brutish beneficiaries of a failed socialist system on the other might as well be two different species that cannot coexist. The agent who sets out to destroy St. Oswald's appears to be a psychopath but is also a product of that vicious and destructive class hatred. The protagonist cannot be content with the mere destruction of the enemy but must achieve its total devastation and disgrace to a degree from which it can never recover. Men whose entire lives have been dedicated to a system of education and who are totally devoted to serving the youth within it must have their reputations utterly destroyed for this agent to feel that the social balance has somehow been restored.
Murder is far from being the most heinous crime here.

Aug 29, 2014

Recommended by dad.

May 02, 2012

This is a psychological cat-and-mouse game told by two narrators. One is the offspring of the former head porter at St. Oswald?s school for boys who, as a young child pretended to be a student at the school. The other is Ozzie's crusty old classics master Roy Straitly. The first narrator, who concentrates mostly on what happened in the past, turns out to now be a new teacher at St O's bent on bringing down the school. As the book goes on we learn about what happened to them as a child. Then we see through Straitly's eyes weird goings on at the school now as well as some insight into past occurances. All comes to a head on bonfire night with old Straitly coming out as the hero. Not quite as suspenseful as it was painted to be. One plot twist was very easy to guess. Nevertheless I enjoyed it.

Mar 19, 2012

Good read. The ending I just didn't see coming. I am usually pretty good at guessing, but I didn't catch it until I read it. The ending completely caught me off guard. Fast pace with great twists.

Mar 04, 2012

Loved this book! Reminded me a bit of both A Separate Peace and Fifth Business. Good mystery - quite creepy too!!

zed33 Sep 24, 2010

Thoroughly enjoyed this book. I new there was a twist coming, but didn't quite guess the right one, and missed the second. Highly recommended.


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