Trow takes a break from his series of pastiches about Inspector Sholto Lestrade (The Supreme Adventure of Inspector Lestrade, 1985, etc.) for this low-key whodunitthe first in a new seriesthat begins with the discovery of schoolgirl Jennifer Hyde, strangled in an abandoned house close by Leighford High. Up-and-coming Chief Inspector Henry Hall is on the case, but historian Peter Maxwell, the Head of Sixth Form, isn't satisfied about the official inquiryand feels guilty that he ``wasn't there for Jenny.'' So Maxwell, despite the warnings of his buddy Geoffrey Smith, an English master with an ear for dialogue from old movies, starts to poke around on his own. By the time he's done he'll have been poked back good and properaccused of interfering with Jenny's best friend, suspended from his position at Leighford, terrorized by a bullying inspector, charged with rape, beaten and kicked into the hospitaldown but definitely not out. Good strong background on unspeakable Leighford, though the parade of familiar devices (blustery parents, secret diary, unseemly liaison with the married man) makes you understand why you don't often hear about the teachers who've made it big as detectives.
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