The Ancient Nine by Ian Smith


“Pulls you into the depths of a secret world from the first page. Ian Smith’s novel is unmissable.” —Harlan Coben, author of Missing You

Cambridge, Massachusetts, Fall 1988

Spenser Collins

An unlikely Harvard prospect, smart and athletic, strapped for cash, determined to succeed. Calls his mother—who raised him on her own in Chicago—every week.

Dalton Winthrop

A white-shoe legacy at Harvard, he’s just the most recent in a string of moneyed, privileged Winthrop men in Cambridge. He’s got the ease—and the deep knowledge—that come from belonging.

These two find enough common ground to become friends, cementing their bond when Spenser is “punched” to join the Delphic Club, one of the most exclusive of Harvard’s famous all-male final clubs. Founded in the nineteenth century, the Delphic has had titans of industry, Hollywood legends, heads of state, and power brokers among its members.

Dalton Winthrop knows firsthand that the Delphic doesn’t offer memberships to just anyone. His great-uncle is one of their oldest living members, and Dalton grew up on stories of the club’s rituals. But why is his uncle so cryptic about the Ancient Nine, a shadowy group of alums whose identities are unknown and whose power is absolute? They protect the Delphic’s darkest and oldest secrets—including what happened to a student who sneaked into the club’s stately brick mansion in 1927 and was never seen again.

Dalton steers Spenser into deeper and deeper recesses of the club, and beyond, to try to make sense of what they think they may be seeing. But with each scrap of information they get from an octogenarian Crimson graduate, a crumbling newspaper in the library’s archives, or one of Harvard’s most famous and heavily guarded historical books, a fresh complication trips them up. The more the friends investigate, the more questions they unearth, tangling the story of the club, the disappearance, and the Ancient Nine, until they realize their own lives are in danger.


Spenser is a struggling student at Harvard. He is always low on money and does not come from the right background. He is from the south side of Chicago. So, fitting in with all the rich, preppy boys at Harvard is not so easy. When he receives an invitation to one of the exclusive clubs which Harvard is famous for, this adds a whole new element of complication to his college life.

Spenser does not understand how he can be selected for one of the secret clubs at Harvard. He does not fit the bill! Luckily his friend, Dalton is there to help. When these two discover the story about a death of a student years ago, it leads them into a tangled mess of a mystery which could get them killed.

Spenser is a great character. He is hardworking and determined. Then there is Dalton. He is the opposite of Spenser. These two together create a good team. I love their chemistry and Dalton’s no nonsense attitude really balances the two.

I adore the setting of this novel. The rich history of Harvard is the perfect backdrop for this story. And believe me, the author knew how to weave a great tale around all this history. With the Delphic (the secret society), The Ancient Nine ( a secret within the secret society), the old house with secret rooms, how could the reader not be captivated. This tale just seems to drag a little. It has the rich history and the secrets but not a lot of action to keep the story moving.

I received this novel from St. Martin’s Press via Netgalley for a honest review.

Purchase here

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About fredreeca

I am an avid reader and paper crafter. I am a mom of 2 children, 5 dogs and 1 cat. I am a huge St. Louis Cardinals Fan
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