A Quiet Teacher

Severn House. Nov. 2022. 224p. ISBN 9781448309429. $29.99. THRILLER
A turncoat Russian spy battles his demons and solves a baffling murder in the narrow world of snowbound Pittsburgh, PA, in Oyebanji’s (Braking Day) well-plotted first mystery novel. Armed with a new identity and bearing more than a few scars, Greg Abimbola is a language teacher at the elite Caldehill Academy, carefully negotiating a path through imperious parents, autocratic bureaucrats, entitled students, and a locally flavored form of racism. An especially demanding and manipulative parent, who also happens to be the wife of a quickly rising politician, is found murdered at the school, and a friend of Greg’s becomes the main suspect. Reluctantly drawn into the case by tunnel-visioned police investigators, Greg is soon using the skills from his former life to sort the suspects and solve the crime while carefully avoiding his dogged Russian pursuers.
VERDICT The chapters are short, and the writing is sharp as Oyebanji demonstrates a confident and developed voice and style. Never pulling punches, he smoothly places societal issues in service of the story and ends up multiplying the power of both.
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