There’s no lack of praise for Will Lavender’s debut novel, Obedience. It’s a twisty, knot of a book that concerns students in a Logic and Reasoning Class at a small college campus in Indiana. Their only assignment:  find a missing girl, Polly, before the six-week course is up or she will be murdered by her abductors.

Lavender does not  concern himself with all the students in Professor Williams’ class. He focuses his attention on Mary, a slightly fragile and obsessive girl; Brian, a student overcoming the loss of his brother and Dennis, Mary’s ex-boyfriend. As they work alone and then together to solve the mystery of Polly’s disappearance, Lavender strings them (and us) along with enough plot twists and convoluted clues  for three novels. At one point I considered making a chart.

I can’t claim any real expertise when it comes to mystery novels. I read them, I enjoy them. Lavender is working on -at least- a couple levels in Obedience and while the ending is certainly clever and tidy…the final chapter made me question what I thought I knew all over again.

No matter- this is a fast-paced page-turner of a novel, smart and complicated and, yeah, a chart’s not a bad idea.