A well done novel about a secret society within a secret society set in the bounds of Harvard University.
Spencer Collins, a young man from the inner city of Chicago, has been accepted into prestigious Harvard University. He expects to live the full life of a student attending university where he will endure grinding class work and study while playing basketball for the school. Much to his surprise and pleasure, he is tendered an invitation to join the very cream of the “final” clubs existing at Harvard. These clubs provide room and board to their members and the benefits of a fraternal type of organization. It is the “Delphic” that invites him to meet with their members as a prelude to gaining membership.
While working at his studies and becoming involved with the “gas” club as the Delphic is popularly known, Spencer also becomes aware of the “Ancient Nine.” This is a secret organization within the secret Delphic club and comprised of unknown members of that group.
Spencer and his friend Dalton Winthrop become entranced in attempting to learn the secrets behind the Ancient Nine and what they stand for and Smith brings us a logical progression towards this end. He also brings the reader a very realistic picture of men and women involved in academic life and learning with parties, drinking, sports and rooting for the college team. He also shows the entrance of love into Spencer’s life and his meeting with the girl that is to become his wife.
The novel tells the story set in the academic world that Harvard is. The University is one of the first colleges established in the United States and the alma mater of generations of successful graduates who not only have the education received, but the help of a powerful alumni group built up over centuries. The purpose of the Nine as presented by the author is a very original idea utilizing Harvard’s lengthy existence as a prop in the story. While Smith has written several other books involving technical topics, this is only his second novel and certainly should press him to do more with fiction.
9/18 Paul Lane
THE ANCIENT NINE by Ian Smith, M.D. St. Martin’s Press (September 18, 2018). ISBN 978-1250182395. 432p.