One of Santiago Torres’ closest friends, Jasper Willoughs, dies in a fall from a Georgetown University dormitory. Although ruled a suicide, Santi, a Jesuit priest and a Gonzaga high school headmaster, knows his friend too well to believe that. Jasper, a fellow priest finishing his doctorate on the early history of the Jesuit order, had been excited to meet Santi because he had found something that would cause him to rewrite his thesis. Soon, Santi receives mysterious clues from The Odd Fellows Society, a Georgetown club for history and trivia geeks for whom Willoughs created an annual scavenger hunt. Is Santi crazy, or did Willoughs somehow threaten a merely rumored, Georgetown secret society called the Stewards? Either way, Santi becomes caught up in a real life scavenger hunt around the nation’s capital. To complicate matters, his partner is Abby Byrnes, the woman he has secretly loved for eighteen years, and his brother, with whom he shares a complicated history and no affection, is the FBI agent on the case. Can they figure out the clues before Santi becomes the next victim to die under mysterious circumstances?
The Odd Fellows Society is not timid in its scope. C.G. Barrett begins with a religious order and a rumored secret college society. From there, he conceives a plot that quickly evolves to include international implications. Furthermore, Barrett knows whereof he writes, as a former history teacher at Gonzaga College High School in Washington, D.C. This may account for the realistic feel of certain aspects of this novel. Indeed, the details of Santi’s scavenger hunt will have readers curious to visit our nation’s capital to see if aspects of the plot could be accurate. Finally, Barrett provides enough plot twists to keep even veteran armchair sleuths entertained. Overall, The Odd Fellows Society is an enjoyable read.
(Reviewed in exchange for a copy of the book in San Francisco Book Review.)