Better known for his long-running series featuring banker Mark Treasure, Williams now offers a fifth outing for Cardiff detectives Parry and Lloyd, who, with typical British understatement, go about their business of solving puzzling murders. The one here first seems like a suicide, with aging schoolboy Freddy Gibbon taking a 40-foot flyer out of his dormitory room window. Headmaster Handel Newsom-Pugh, whose task it is to bring his dim charges up to college-level work, is horrified at the scandal now erupting around Modlen Hall, although he confesses he was about to ask Freddy, a poor student and a bit of a cad, to leave. It would not be the first time Freddy was dismissed, and at one of his prior academies, his ouster was barely preceded by the suicide by hanging of young Peter Absom. It takes time, diligence, and an uncanny ability to best liars at their game for Parry and Lloyd to sort through the rubbish told them by the students, faculty, and family of both dead boys before the detectives unravel Freddy's various blackmail ventures, tawdry sexual escapades, drug dealing, and all-round harassment of weaker, more gullible souls, and assign one boy's demise to murder and the other's to a wrenching suicide.
Williams (A Terminal Case, not reviewed, etc.) is expert at demolishing alibis and revealing the secrets his poor suspects do their utmost to conceal. Readers longing for a rattling good puzzle to cozy up to will be well served here.