Cover image for Adams fall
Adams fall
Desmond, Sean, 1973-
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Thomas Dunne Books, 2000.
Physical Description:
245 pages ; 22 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
X Adult Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



With the fall of his senior year at the College upon him, the nameless protagonist of Adams Fall finds himself under the great strain of senior year with a thesis to write, a Marshall to apply for, and a girlfriend to elude. It is a full, but manageable plate for one of "the country's best and brightest." A resident of Adams house's reportedly haunted B-entry, he is familiar with tales of phantom footsteps, vanished laundry, lurking shadows. But when he begins to find himself the object of the house's cruel attentions his world quickly begins to unravel. As the protagonist's grades slip, so slips his mind.Into his privileged ivy-league world enters a charming and vindictive playboy from the College's past who relishes reminding the protagonist of the circumstances surrounding the suicide of his first year roommate. When the protagonist is faced with the mutilated body of a woman he had been sneaking around with, he resolves to discover the identity of the ghost in order to put an end to its raging and to maintain his sanity. Adams Fall is an elegant blend of ghost story and psychological thriller, with a tip of its hat to Henry James.

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

The unnamed narrator of Desmond's first novel is a senior at an esteemed university known as "the College" (Harvard in every sense except for the name). He is trying to write his thesis, finish a Marshall application, and maintain his crumbling relationship with his girlfriend, Rosie. He lives in spooky Adams Hall, works in the deserted stacks of the College's library, and is haunted by the suicide of freshman-year roommate Billy, who may or may not have known that the narrator and Rosie, who was Billy's girlfriend at the time, were having an affair. To make matters worse, the narrator is attracted to a beautiful girl in one of his classes and is tempted to cheat on Rosie. Throw in a malevolent ghost who seems to know all of the narrator's transgressions, and the stage is set. The narrator's life spirals out of control as, tormented by this ghost, he loses his grip on reality. Though it's a little confusing and cliched in places, Adams Fall is a gripping novel. Kristine Huntley

Publisher's Weekly Review

Restless ghosts roam the august halls of Harvard in this debut psychothriller, a younger sibling to The Shining. In his senior year at Harvard, the unnamed narrator's life is falling apart. Having faithfully toiled in his classes for three years with good results, he is now burnt out as he goes through the motions of composing his senior thesis, and completes his application for study abroad with all the animation of a zombie. He is bored with his girlfriend, Rosie, and haunted by memories of her ex, Billy, the narrator's freshman roommate and former best friend, who hanged himself in their room. The protagonist copes by frantic boozing, drug taking and clandestine sex with his glamorous classmate, Maeve. But he begins to suffer headaches and spells of dj vu while restlessly pacing the dorm's old underground tunnels and its roof. He can't figure out why his grades slip perilously and his health declines, until he meets a spectral visitor from the past who appears to be enjoying himself at the narrator's expense and hints at sexual secrets. Things go terribly wrong on Halloween, when the narrator, in a mushroom-induced paranoia, wakes up with a fearsome image of Maeve dead in the underground tunnels. To his horror, he finds that the ghost, a former Adams resident, is merrily reconstructing two deadly scenes from the past, using the narrator and his circle as stand-ins. Newcomer Desmond shows a flair for character development and wry observations about Ivy League life. Even if his plotting is unoriginal and the dialogue a bit flat, this is an entertaining debut and a suitable Halloween release. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved