Mystery,  Review

#Review : The Ancient Nine by Ian K. Smith @StMartinsPress


Hello book lovers! Today I’m really excited to be part of of blog tour for The Ancient Nine. Many thanks to St. Martin’s Press for the tour invite and for providing e-ARC. Please check out my thoughts on the book below. The Ancient Nine is available now!

Ancient Nine cover.jpg

The Ancient Nine by Ian K. Smith

Publication Date: September 18th 2018
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Read Date: September 3rd 2018
Genre: Mystery / Historical Fiction
Pages: 432

Stars: 4.5/5

4.5 Stars



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 it, 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.


The Ancient Nine was a slow burner scholarly mystery set in 1988, story of convoluted mystery of one the club house of Harvard, buried secrets and wealthy cunning titans of the world who will go to any length to protect it. After long time I read such informative novel.


Main character, Spencer Collins was athletic, smart, American black student of Harvard from average family background. Invitation from the legendary men club of Harvard, exclusive to only rich white students changed everything in his life. Nothing about the invitation was normal and sounded more personal to Spencer that pulled him and his best friend Dalton Winthrop into the puzzle of buried secrets of ancient nine.

I liked Spencer’s voice. It was written in way that pulled me to read more about his life at Harvard. Dalton was much more striking than him in lot of way and also had very important role in the story. Smart intelligent rich rebellious kid and his cold war with his father, his way of probing matters and using resources for that was impressive.

Both the characters were developed and by the end of the book both Dalton and Spencer grew on me and I was much impressed the way they took risk and solved the mystery. There were many interesting secondary characters contributed in progress of the story.

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The story was written in first person narrative from main character’s POV. First few chapters had tremendous info on Harvard ground, magnificent buildings and its history and clubs. I suggest keep the map given in the beginning handy to view all the details on streets, campus, and buildings without getting confused.

Exquisite immaculate narration of the houses took me right there walking along with Spencer meeting famous people and dizzily admiring all the facts and details. It was like reading research paper on Harvard which was turned into fiction story. Soon I found myself googling about everything mentioned in the book. The accuracy of some of the details were really jaw dropping.

After getting loads of info about this secret society and their lavish party, I was much intrigued with the history and the secrets it held. There were lot of question hanging in my mind. Why Spencer was punched, what they are hiding in the mansion, what happened to Abbott 60 yrs ago were the center pieces of puzzle which are intertwined with each other in smart and complex way. As characters tried to get answers to these question the more deep it took them with bunch of more question and some to dead ends.

There was so many things to talk about related to Harvard and the mystery but telling it all here would kill the fun. What I loved most was the Spencer and Dalton’s core research on rare ancient text that linked all the question, Libraries and divisions of Harvard Campus, and all other details that revealed the exquisite history of campus. I haven’t read Robert Langdon series, I watched movies and I can tell this book had the same feel.

The suspense got more thrilling in the second half of the book. Climax was mind-blowing and highly uncertain. Author really knew how and where to put the pieces of the puzzle and still holding the final important one in way that no one can figure out what the picture would be like till the end. That acronym in the poem almost gave away the secret as I knew what it stands for but still I didn’t know how it was connected to mystery until last 10% of the book.

End was great, contrary to what I thought, I didn’t expect it to be wrapped up so smoothly but it was satisfactory.

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A minor point- Racy, entertainment, comments and views of club on women in first half and sport, tournament in the second half the book distracted me from the main mystery. Like clubs in the book it felt like written for men readers.


Overall, it was original, interesting, slow building and steady paced with exquisite writing. I enjoyed it. Those who like historical suspense with academic details would definitely enjoy the book.


About Author:

Ian Smith.jpgIan K. Smith is the author of nine New York Times bestselling nonfiction books, several of them, including Shred and Super Shred, #1 bestsellers, as well as one previous work of fiction, The Blackbird Papers. He is a graduate of Harvard, Columbia, and the University of Chicago’s Pritzker School of Medicine.

Social Links:

Facebook: @Dr.IanKSmith

Twitter: @DrIanSmith

Author Website

Instagram: @doctoriansmith

Buy Links:

AmazonBarnes & Noble / Books-a-Million  / IndieBound  /  Powells

*** I received e-ARC from the publisher via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest and unbiased review. ***

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Hi, I'm Yesha, an Indian book blogger. Avid and eclectic reader who loves to read with a cup of tea. Not born reader but I don't think I’m going to stop reading books in this life. “You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me.”


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