Book Review: Dominance by Will Lavender

4 Jul

Genre: Thriller

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Pub date: 5 July 2011

Source: S&S Galley Grab


Fifteen years ago, Alex Shipley and small bunch of students were part of a controversial course – Unraveling a Literary Mystery – at Jasper College. The course was controversial because it was taught by literature professor Richard Aldiss via a video feed from his prison cell. Aldiss was convicted of murdering two college students.

Alex made her name in this course and is now a Harvard professor. She found out the real identity of Paul Fellows, but more dramatically, helped acquit Aldiss of the heinous murders. Now when the entire class has come together after many years for a reunion, one of them gets murdered in the same way as the crimes that Aldiss was accused of. Can she discover the identity of the killer and stop him before he picks them off one by one?


If you’ve read some of my older posts, you can’t have missed my obsession with forensic murder mysteries and procedural dramas. Lavender deftly adds a layer of academia to all this, making this novel a winner with me. At the start of the story, we see this class of students studying Unraveling a Literary Mystery. That sounds intriguing enough. But their professor is a convicted murderer who discusses two novels by Paul Fellows, a writer so reclusive that no one knows his identity. The premise is that there are clues in the two published novels of this writer, The Coil and The Golden Silence and the students have to follow them to find out who the author really is while also learning to decode a Literary Mystery. The students of the class go about solving the mystery of the author’s identity by playing a dangerous game called the Procedure.

There was quite a big gap between my reading of this book and sitting down to write the review. So I had to reread some of it to remind me of characters names. But the plot, that I had no problem recalling.

This is brilliantly crafted, tightly plotted story that kept me guessing to the very end. Aldiss is a creepily memorable character and I kept wondering: what is his real motivation and why does he have such power over Alex? Dominance kept me up late, feverishly turning the pages because I had to find out what really happened.

Of course, I can’t say too much more without ruining the plot, so I’m going to stop right here. I am definitely going to be reading Lavender’s earlier work, Obedience really soon.


Highly recommended. Definite read for fans of literary thrillers and murder mysteries.

Rating: 4*

*See my Rating policy

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8 Responses to “Book Review: Dominance by Will Lavender”

  1. Stephanie @ Read in a Single Sitting July 4, 2011 at 10:50 am #

    Ooh, I’m a sucker for books about books–particularly when they involve mysteries! Another one for the TBR 🙂

    • stargazerpuj July 4, 2011 at 12:03 pm #

      Me too. And the academia adds something so cerebral to the whole mystery!

    • Ice May 30, 2017 at 7:05 pm #

      I could read a book about this without finding such real-world appcsarheo!

    • auto insurane rates for Tempe, AZ May 31, 2017 at 9:05 pm #

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    • June 7, 2017 at 3:46 pm #

      Darn, I have to wait till March to get it– it won’t be available at my local store till then. Oh well, at least I have Chanel Nakkar Glossimer to wear on V-DayAriel recently posted …

    • June 7, 2017 at 4:25 pm #

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  2. bookspersonally July 5, 2011 at 9:44 pm #

    ooh books and deciphering and secret identities – sounds like a fun one!


  1. Catch-up Review: The Poison Tree by Erin Kelly | Stargazerpuj's Book Blog - May 30, 2014

    […] I’ve loved other books like this – The Secret Life by Donna Tartt, The Magicians by Lev Grossman, The Likeness by Tana French – although all of them are very different genres, what they have in common is the school/college life – a life that is highly romanticised. Also see my review of Dominance by Will Lavender. […]

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