Stranded at Maine’s exclusive Blackbrook Academy by a violent winter storm, a handful of students and staff realize one of their number is a killer in this trilogy opener based on the board game CLUE.
Without electricity or access to the mainland, those left behind assemble in Tudor House, a decaying mansion, former girls’ reform school, and now girls’ dorm. Elderly Mrs. White looks after Tudor and its students, now down to Orchid McKee and Scarlet Mistry. Soon they’re joined by six more students, including Beth “Peacock” Picach, Finn Plum, Samuel “Mustard” Maestor, and day pupil Vaughn Green. Custodian Rusty Nayler and Headmaster Boddy round out the strandees. The storm rages nightlong, shattering a historic window and flooding the hall. The morning reveals more damage: Mr. Boddy’s lifeless corpse, knife protruding from his chest. Of the six unreliable narrators, the students with CLUE-sourced names, each has something to hide or protect, from ruthlessly competitive, self-described “platonic power couple” Scarlet and Finn to fearful, mousy-by-design Orchid. Why is Vaughn so guarded? Was athletic Mustard expelled from military school? Did Peacock really throw a candlestick at Mr. Boddy? Fans of CLUE and murder-mystery aficionados are equally well served. If a few secrets are revealed, plenty remain to keep readers guessing until the sequel. Scarlet is Indian American; Mustard is tan-skinned; other characters are presumed white.
Ingeniously plotted and vastly entertaining. (Mystery. 14-18)