Review: In the Study With the Wrench

In the aftermath of Headmaster Boddy’s murder, Blackbrook Academy has been thrown into complete disarray. Half the student body hasn’t bothered to return to campus—but those who have include Orchid, Vaughn, Scarlett, Peacock, Plum, and Mustard, now warily referred to by the other students as the Murder Crew.

When another staff member is found dead and an anonymous threat begins to target the group, each of the teens’ opportunistic reasons for sticking around come to light. Orchid’s identity comes under question while Vaughn’s family life takes a turn; Finn and Mustard grow closer; and Scarlett and Beth struggle to turn over new leaves. All of this comes to a dramatic head at Tudor House with a cliff-hanger… 

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This follows the events of what happened in the first book, In the Hall With the Knife, as the students of Blackbrook Academy start a new term after the murder of Headmaster Boddy. A lot of students didn’t return, but all those who were present when the old headmaster was killed are back, and they’re now known as The Murder Crew. And just when they think things might be calming down, another body – the body of head janitor, Rusty – is found in the secret passages of Tudor House.

What seems to be an accidental death is questioned though, as Finn Plum noticed a head wound on Rusty’s body that night he and Scarlett discovered it. Of course, that’s the least of his worries because he’s still trying to recover his secret invention that is locked in the passages. Meanwhile, the rest of the Murder Crew are also going through their own new set of obstacles in the aftermath of last term, and are now finding themselves involved in this new mystery against their wishes.

As much as I enjoyed the first book, I was a little disheartened to find that I didn’t enjoy this book as much. It recapped a lot of the first book to explain what was going on, so it didn’t stand out as much as its own new mystery. The only character that I really enjoyed reading this time around was Orchid, because it seemed she had more going on than just moving on from last term’s murder. Plus, her background was the most interesting of all of the students. Though, again, the author threw in an element that seemingly came out of nowhere that made me have to look back and question if this detail had come up previously because of its casual mention.

Once again, I found myself being skeptical of one of the characters in this story and boy was I excited when I realized I was sort-of right. I knew the person was sketchy as hell, but it didn’t turn out the way I thought. And the ending… that made up for a lot of the slow-moving story. I have my suspicions for what will be revealed in the third book pertaining to one character, but I can’t be specific because, again, spoilers. I hope I’m right though, because the way that book ended… I need answers!

So, yeah, this book wasn’t as great as its predecessor, but I care enough about the characters to want to find out what happens next. Here’s hoping the third book will kick this one’s butt!

Rating: 3.5/5 stars

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