It’s a Mystery: Obedience, by Will Lavender

4.0 out of 5 stars The fun house

Reading Obedience is similar to walking through a fun house full of distorting mirrors and churning floors. The premise is a simple one. Professor Williams presents his logic class with a single assignment: to prevent a murder that will otherwise happen when the course ends. As the students begin to ponder the clues that Williams doles out piecemeal, they grow increasingly uncomfortable with the strangeness of the scenario, and little by little, their abilities to maintain a grasp on reality begin to shred. A few of the students become obsessed, and it is their experiences that form the nucleus of this complicated, sinuous mystery.

There are some contrivances in this plot, but basically, it holds together well, and the reader, if willing, can be easily drawn into the general aura of apprehension that permeates this tale. It’s difficult to perceive what logic has to do with the puzzle, but ethics – or lack thereof – do play a prominent role. Obedience is a strong first novel, and I look forward to Lavender’s next outing.

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