14 August 2022


Synopsis (publisher

The sudden death of a pupil in Fleat House at St Stephen's - a small private boarding school in deepest Norfolk - is a shocking event that the headmaster is very keen to call a tragic accident.

But the local police cannot rule out foul play and the case prompts the return of high-flying Detective Inspector Jazmine 'Jazz' Hunter to the force. Jazz has her own private reasons for stepping away from her police career in London, but reluctantly agrees to front the investigation as a favour to her old boss.

Reunited with her loyal Sergeant, Alastair Miles, she enters the closed world of the school, and as Jazz begins to probe the circumstances surrounding Charlie Cavendish's tragic death, events are soon to take another troubling turn.

Charlie is exposed as an arrogant bully and those around him had both motive and opportunity to switch the drugs he took daily to control his epilepsy.

As staff at the school close ranks, the disappearance of young pupil Rory Millar and the death of an elderly Classics Master provide Jazz with important leads, but are destined to complicate the investigation further. As snow covers the landscape and another suspect goes missing, Jazz must also confront her own personal demons . . .

Then a particularly grim discovery at the school makes this the most challenging murder investigation of her career. Because Fleat House hides secrets darker than even Jazz could ever have imagined.

My Take

On the face of it, 17 year old Charlie Cavendish's death is a terrible accident. Originally it appears that he has had an epileptic fit, but then the autopsy reveals anaphylactic shock resulting from taking aspirin to which he is highly allergic. So who left aspirin out for Charlie to take?

Hot on the heels of Charlie's death comes the suicide of Hugh Daneman, the Classics Master, and the implication that he may have known something about Charlie's death.

So we have a nicely fleshed out plot, some excellently drawn characters, and a beautifully written story. 

DI Jazz Hunter, persuaded to return to work after quite a long sabbatical, is convinced that the story goes deeper than the present. Just to complicate things her father has a heart attack, and her ex-husband turns up.

It's a story with plenty of mystery to sort out, a just a few red herrings. 

Everyone I have spoken to about this novel has found it very readable and very enjoyable. 

In the foreword of this novel, Lucinda Riley's only crime fiction novel, her son Harry Whittaker tells us that this novel was originally written in 2006 and that she died in June 2021 from cancer. Lucinda had not edited this novel and Harry has made the decision to publish it as he found it.

My rating: 4.8

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About The Author

Lucinda Riley was born in Ireland and, after an early career as an actress in film, theatre and television, wrote her first book aged twenty-four. Her books have been translated into thirty-seven languages and sold thirty million copies worldwide. She was a Sunday Times and New York Times number one bestseller.

Lucinda's The Seven Sisters series, which tells the story of adopted sisters and is inspired by the mythology of the famous star cluster, has become a global phenomenon. The series is a number one bestseller across the world and is currently in development with a major TV production company.

Though she brought up her four children mostly in Norfolk in England, in 2015 Lucinda fulfilled her dream of buying a remote farmhouse in West Cork, Ireland, which she always felt was her spiritual home, and indeed this was where her last five books were written. Lucinda was diagnosed with cancer in 2017 and died in June 2021. 

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