Mystery Books for Sale

[ Home ]
[ About | Reviews | Search | Submit ]


by Beth Gutcheon
William Morrow, March 2018
353 pages
ISBN: 0062431994

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

Beth Gutcheon has written a cozy mystery, the second in a series, that light-heartedly skewers the independent school world at the same time that it provides a fairly accurate look at teenage angst in boarding schools. Maggie Detweiler, retired headmistress, is heading up an evaluation team for a failing boarding school in the Hudson River Valley of New York when a faculty member is murdered. She calls in her wealthy friend, Hope Babbin, to help her investigate when she is asked to stay on to help guide the school through the investigation. Between the two of them, Maggie and Hope seem to know every wealthy member of New York society, connections that turn out to be essential to the resolution of the crime.

Florence Meagher, the dead woman, had annoyed many with her affliction the inability to stop talking. It may have been her lack of discretion that got her killed. Or perhaps it was a strained relationship with her husband. Or maybe something related to her research on Spanish art, or even her close relationship with an emotionally damaged young boy. As Maggie and Hope assist in the police investigation, motives and suspects seem to emerge from all sides. In the meantime, the young headmistress relies more and more on Maggie's advice as interpersonal tensions emerge between various groups of adults and students. Those who have worked with teenage girls will recognize the relentless bullying that takes place inside the school's walls, and even those who have no experience with independent schools will find sympathy for the victims.

The book describes the evaluation process while poking fun at the members of the accreditation team, helping even those who are uninitiated into boarding school culture with a peek at its workings. However, it is not clear until a passing reference about a hundred pages into the book why the police would rely so heavily on Maggie and Hope to conduct an investigation. Admittedly, I had not read the first book in the series, DEATH AT BREAKFAST, and doing so might have clarified this. While some of the wealthy parents and board members may seem almost to be parodies, they are not too terribly far off the mark. Maggie and Hope are fully realized characters, as are many of the teachers and students.

The tone of the book is kept light, and the scenes described in the final words of the book are highly satisfying. All in all, the book builds a world that might not be familiar to everyone but is engaging and entertaining.

Sharon Mensing, retired educational leader, lives, reads, and enjoys the outdoors in rural Wyoming.

Reviewed by Sharon Mensing, May 2018

[ Top ]



Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

[ About | Reviews | Search | Submit ]
[ Home ]