9 Squares: The Ivy League Chronicles
Paper Raven Books (2021)
Reviewed by Ashley Hooker for Reader Views (08/2021)
E.K. Prescott’s “9 Squares” is book one in her “The Ivy League Chronicles” series. It is a suspenseful mystery set in the 1920s. We are in New Haven, Connecticut, getting to know the newest professor at Yale and two young girls that make a notable discovery.
Maize and her friend Leslie are members of the upper crust society, but just girls at heart. On this particular day, they are planning a picnic on the beach while sight-seeing some cute Yale guys. Things don’t go exactly as planned when Leslie leans back in the sand and discovers a hand belonging to a skeleton. Maize’s father is the owner of a newspaper and sees this event as notable for publication. Leslie’s father sends her to visit family, so she stays out of the limelight.
While Leslie is visiting family, Maize meets the professor, Richard Wikki. Richard worked at Scotland Yard and came to America to teach at Yale Law School. When he learns of this discovery, it piques his interest. Richard uses his investigative skills to lure Maize into giving him the amulet she found in the skeleton’s hand and begins his own investigation into who this skeleton was and why was a necklace with an amulet so important.
To find out the mystery, Richard and Maize travel to Boston, Hartford, and Salem. The reader learns about the 9 squares, what the amulet does, and who the skeleton is and how he came to rest on the beach.
Prescott impressed me from the beginning by writing a piece of historical fiction set in the Progressive Era. As a former history teacher, I always liked this time period. She has done her homework and developed an excellent story within these historical parameters. She described President Harding perfectly and portrayed the political scandals and corruption of the Progressive Era. It also impressed me how well Prescott wrote this novel. She developed a story with twists, turns, suspense, and emotion flawlessly. While I was reading, it reminded me of the Dan Brown novels I have read. Her writing was clear. Her story development was seamless.
My favorite character was Maize. She was a young woman living in a society that said women didn’t need a proper education. They were expected to marry well and run a household of children and servants. Maize was different. She wanted to go to Yale and become an investigative journalist. She followed her dreams and became a student at Yale. Her journey with Richard Wikki proved she had the skills and passion to become a great investigative reporter.
Overall, I enjoyed “9 Squares” and am interested in reading other works by Prescott. I would recommend this book to young adults, historical fiction fans, and mystery enthusiasts.