Review: In the Hall With the Knife

When a storm strikes at Blackbrook Academy, an elite prep school nestled in the woods of Maine, a motley crew of students—including Beth “Peacock” Picach, Orchid McKee, Vaughn Green, Sam “Mustard” Maestor, Finn Plum, and Scarlet Mistry—are left stranded on campus with their headmaster. Hours later, his body is found in the conservatory and it’s very clear his death was no accident.

With this group of students who are all hiding something, nothing is as it seems, and everyone has a motive for murder. Fans of the CLUE board game and cult classic film will delight in Diana Peterfreund’s modern re-imagining of the brand, its characters, and the dark, magnificent old mansion with secrets hidden within its walls.

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I’m just going to say it… I’m a sucker for boarding school mystery novels. I have been ever since I read Private by Kate Brian. So of course when I saw one that was based off the board game, Clue, I had to check it out. And to me, this one did not disappoint.

The story follows six students – Peacock, Orchid, Vaughn, Mustard, Finn, and Scarlett – who are stuck in one of the dorms during a big storm that basically floods the rest of campus with a couple of other students, along with faculty members Rusty Naylor, Mrs. White, and Headmaster Boddy. But when their headmaster turns up dead the next morning, they have to find out who among them killed him and why?

The story goes between each character’s perspective, giving insight as to why they might possibly have a motive to harm their headmaster. Some reasons are given straight out, while others take time to come to light. Mostly, we see that these kids are, for the most part, good kids, but of course have their flaws which makes them suspicious. There was one twist thrown in for one of the students that made me go back and reread because I thought I had missed something, but it was more just thrown in as a fact and then the light-bulb clicked as to why that character was acting weird (I won’t say because spoilers).

For a large cast of characters, it was easy to follow along. And I found that I was half-right about who dunnit and killed Headmaster Boddy (I say half-right because I narrowed it to two characters, and one was the right one). I think what made me really enjoy this story was the characters themselves, as opposed to the plot. I just enjoyed them, especially Finn, Scarlett, and Orchid, and was happy to read their story. Imagine how glad I was to find out this is a trilogy and I’ll be seeing them again for two more books!

Overall, a fun read that’s great for any time of the year, but especially fall or during National Mystery Month.

Rating: 5/5 stars

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