Being a scholarship pupil at a top private school was never going to be easy, but when one of the elite students, Hugh Henry Van Boren, is murdered, things get even more dangerous for the heroine Jess Choudhary. The method for the murder is a copy of a short story that Jess and another pupil had written, but how did the murderer get hold of it and why try and implicate Jess in the crime? Added to all this is the fact that Jess’s best friend Clem was going out with Hugh and is now enemies with his ex, Millie. Mixed with this is the lurking menace of a long-standing secret society and the influence it has on all the pupils. When a second murder is discovered, people don’t know who to trust and the possible murderers keep changing. Is Jess going to find herself a target and who can she actually trust to help her?
This is a multi-layered story based on the classic whodunnit and set in the rarefied atmosphere of a boarding school. It is quite frightening to discover the levels of entitlement, manipulation and racism that are taking place in this environment, where social class and money are the main criteria for judging people. However it is not just the pupils that are a threat to Jess and the other scholarship pupils. The school board have declared that they must act in an exemplary way, or run the risk of being expelled from school; this is a very different set of rules from what the other pupils seem to follow. As the events begin to unfold after the murder, Jess is faced with decisions about what she should tell the authorities (and the effect this would have on her place). This is a story about friendship, acceptance and how family can be both a positive and negative influence. This has to be one of my favourite stories of the year so far and definitely merits five stars.