A nineteenth-century boarding school story with a twist beginning with not one but two murders. The victims are Mrs Constance Plackett, headmistress of St Ethelreda’s School for Young Ladies and her brother Mr Aldous Godding and the cause appears to be poisoned veal cutlets. Instead of phoning the emergency services the seven pupils, led by Smooth Kitty Heaton, decide to bury the bodies in the garden and plant a cherry tree on top. Why? In order to remain at the school and avoid returning home to their collectively uncaring parents.
Hiding their actions and trying to create the illusion everything is normal leads the girls into deeper and deeper difficulties, particularly for Stout Alice Brooks who has to impersonate the deceased headmistress on a number of occasions. Her acting ability comes in handy here as does Dour Elinor Siever’s skill with make-up. All seven students are shown to have useful skills of different kinds; even Disgraceful Mary Jane Marshall’s flair for flirtation comes in handy though the epithets attached to the seven students’ names feel a little over used at times. However, the story moves forward at a rapid pace with more than a touch of humour as the level of intrigue and deception deepens and the secrets of the deceased and also other characters, including the rather suspicious Dr Snelling and Barnes the love struck housekeeper unfold.
But who committed the murders and are the girls in danger? Pocked Louise Dudley turns out to be an excellent sleuth and eventually reveals the killer. Working together saves the day for the scandalous sisterhood in this enjoyable farce by the author of the 2014 Carnegie shortlisted listed book All the Truth That’s in Me.