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3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (1,158 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Will Lavender Narrator: Ted Barker Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: February 2008 ISBN: 9781415946459
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“With superb confidence, Lavender constructs a brilliant fictional web of lies, inventively warping the psychological thriller to fit the confines of a scholarly investigation.”–Kirkus Reviews

When the students in Winchester University’s Logic and Reasoning 204 arrive for their first day of class, they are greeted not with a syllabus or texts, but with a startling assignment from Professor Williams: Find a hypothetical missing girl named Polly. If after being given a series of clues and details the class has not found her before the end of the term in six weeks, she will be murdered.

At first the students are as intrigued by the premise of their puzzle as they are wary of the strange and slightly creepy Professor Williams. But as they delve deeper into the mystery, they begin to wonder: Is the Polly story simply a logic exercise, designed to teach them rational thinking skills, or could it be something more sinister and dangerous?

The mystery soon takes over the lives of three students as they find disturbing connections between Polly and themselves. Characters that were supposedly fictitious begin to emerge in reality. Soon, the boundary between the classroom assignment and the real world becomes blurred–and the students wonder if it is their own lives they are being asked to save.


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Quotes & Awards

  • In his dream-like and labyrinthine debut, Will Lavender delivers a clever, intricate page-turner that kept me guessing late into the night. Obedience is a house of mirrors where every corner we turn is a false reflection of the truth until the shocking final scene. A gripping exploration of human nature and all its foibles told in Lavender's fresh and original voice, Obedience is not to be missed. Lisa Unger
  • Obedience is a very scary story set on the border where good meets evil, located in this case in that scariest of places, academia. Taut, twisty, and highly original: the pages turned themselves. Peter Abrahams
  • A taut and timely thriller that explores the dark side of academia, where classrooms are dangerous and paranoia abounds. Karin Slaughter
  • A taut, clever puzzle, so artfully crafted and tightly wound that it springs open its trap when you least expect it to. Carol Goodman, author of The Sonnet Lover and The Ghost Orchid
  • "A devilishly inventive debut that reads like a house of mirrors. Nothing is what it seems, right up to the devastating finale.
    Brian Freeman, author of Stripped
  • Obedience is evidence that crime fiction is hardly a played-out genre …. [G]rafts the world-turned-upside-down suspense of a Harlan Coben thriller to the hall-of-mirrors vertigo of a novel by Paul Auster …. [I]ts ultimate implications continue to spin out in a reader’s mind after the final page is turned. Wall Street Journal
  • Authentic puzzle mysteries are an endangered species in these hectic times, so it’s a genuine, if slightly perverse, kick to follow every byzantine clue in this bizarre game…. If you solve this one without peeking at the last chapter, it's an automatic A. New York Times Book Review
  • Obedience is a fiendishly clever thriller, debut or no, and Lavender exhibits deft control at the wheel. Bookgasm.com
  • Obedience is quite a twisty little number …. the taunting nature of the challenge is irresistible…. New York Daily News
  • [T]his is one of those high-concept thrillers with a final twist that upends all expectations, filled with characters who are not what they seem. Entertainment Weekly
  • "Obedience is a full course load of sinister fun. Salon.com

    An inspired thriller about cognitive dissonance, conjectural misdirection and the conspicuous dichotomy between academia and the real world.
  • Will Lavender stuns with this compelling thriller…. The surreal but believable landscape fairly bursts from its confines, goading the reader into finishing just one more page. Louisville Courier-Journal
  • “It’s a terrific book, part cat-and-mouse mystery and part psychological study of group behavior…. [A] wonderful book with a strong emotional punch at the end. St. Petersburg Times
  • “Lavender’s first novel suggests he has a bright future. The novel is briskly plotted with deft narrative. Obedience builds to a swirling conclusion. It becomes a place where morality is blurred and intentions drift astray. Tampa Tribune
  • In his tautly strung debut novel, Obedience, literature professor Will Lavender tears a page of out Milgram’s notebooks and sets into motion a chain of events that escalates far beyond its intended intellectual exercise. . . . Mystery fans will be satisfied to hang on around the story’s hairpin turns as the list of suspects swells and narrows with the unearthing of each clue, but Lavender . . . is aiming at a broader target and posing deeper questions. Bookpage
  • First-time novelist Lavender has a knack for creepy characters and red herrings. Library Journal
  • First novelist Lavender has sprinkled his text with enough red herrings to feed the Biblical 5,000 but uses them to build page-turning suspense. . . . Lavender’s invocation of the notorious Milgram experiment conducted at Yale on obedience to authority adds an additional–and salutary–layer of psychological meaning to his elaborate plot. Booklist
  • Obedience draws you in and never lets go — and what a ride! David Baldacci

Listener Opinions

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Ali6 | 2/20/2014

    " I really enjoyed this book from the first few pages. Good storyline, interesting characters, and it was hard to put down. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Janeene | 2/18/2014

    " this book really went up and down for me - at points it was intriguing and fast paced - then lost it's interest - then back again......I was disappointed as I thought the premise of the book was a good one. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Karen | 2/12/2014

    " I liked this book, but not as much as I enjoyed his other book, Dominance. With Obedience, I found myself "making" myself stick with it; not because it was bad, it just wasn't as much of a page turner as the other one, in my opinion. My advice would be, if you want to try Will Lavender, read Dominance, and then Obedience if you really want to. Either way, I'm glad I read it, and it's a smart book that keeps you guessing until the end. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Terra | 2/10/2014

    " Very readable literary suspense with some holes. The end wasn't quite the right tone, either, but it had me guessing the whole way through. Overall I liked it but it was not as successful as it was ambitious. What bothered me also was that there was no consequences for the perps, only the victims (I consider the professor a victim). "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Jill | 2/1/2014

    " Pretty well done. Once you think you know what'sd going on, something happens to make you change your mind. I recommend it, a couple of notches above mindless entertainment, but not a literary masterpiece. I recommend it for light reading. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Denise | 1/22/2014

    " Not sure what really happened in this book??? A thriller. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Elissa | 1/14/2014

    " Will keep you guessing til the end, great suspense. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Gatorman | 1/10/2014

    " Started off with an interesting idea but went absolutely nowhere in the end. A lot of promise and build up but zero reward as the ending was one of the worst I've ever read, somewhat predictable but just plain dumb. Don't waste your time as I did mine. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Flowerparts | 1/4/2014

    " Liked this one - kept getting confused as to what was real and what wasn't! Kept me guessing til the end! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Deb | 12/28/2013

    " An interesting mystery. (I don't usually choose mysteries.) "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 JT | 12/28/2013

    " Fans of the movie, "The Game," will relish this novel, Lavender's first. A college ethics class run amuck with plenty of "is this really happening?' moments. Although the climax is a bit of a howler, this is a fun and engrossing read. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Jean | 12/12/2013

    " Great concept, quick read, sort of disappointing ending. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Diane | 12/7/2013

    " This book was entertaining. I was intrigued the whole way through and did not expect the ending. I read just about the whole thing on a plane ride and it made the trip fly by! "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Kathleen | 11/27/2013

    " Premise is very interesting- a logic/reasoning course that has real-life consequences but plotting and characters soon are hard to understand. Author should have dealt more with course and less with plot twists that seemed unnecessary "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Kevin | 6/1/2013

    " The premise of this was intriguing, but the execution was underwhelming and oddly forgettable. I wanted to like it a lot more than I did. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Rebking | 9/12/2012

    " This book is good for an airplane or beach read. It's not amazing, but it's quick and I couldn't figure out the ending before it was revealed. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Andrea | 9/5/2012

    " This was an unsettling read that I couldn't put down. Parts of the story were so well written, but the climax and ending were strangely unsatisfying. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Paul | 4/17/2012

    " Just OK. Decent plot, boring characters, pedestrian writing style. I found what happened to Brian at the end more than a bit difficult to believe. Grade B- "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Joanne | 4/8/2012

    " I usually like academic mysteries, so picked this one up, but put it down after the first farfetched sex scene. Overall tone is creepy. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Joy (Thoughts of Joy) | 10/5/2011

    " My thoughts are on my my blog: "Thoughts of Joy..." "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Luke Padgett | 8/9/2011

    " Not worth the energy of a review. Sucks! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Maura | 6/2/2011

    " It is a page turner. I'm interested to see how it turns out. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Holly | 4/27/2011

    " Once I got to the ending, I wasn't a big fan of the premise. But that's just me. Maybe my hopes were just too high. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Rose | 4/15/2011

    " The answer is right in the title! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Emily | 2/19/2011

    " thrilling, sinister and insightful in equal measure; you'll never guess the truth. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Sera | 1/6/2011

    " Eh, not for me. The story was unique and told in an intelligent way until it outsmarted itself at the end. I'm just glad that it was short. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Donovan | 10/3/2010

    " Intersting ending, was kinda hard to follow. Kept getting distracted, and it didn't hold my attention, very well. "

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About the Author
Author Will Lavender

Will Lavender teaches literature and writing in Louisville, Kentucky. He has an MFA in creative writing from Bard College and his short fiction has been published in various small journals.