A highly original debut murder mystery featuring a young elementary school principal with a tragic past.
Samantha Cabot Samuels is no stranger to tragedy. She lost her parents at 17; years later, her husband died in a plane crash, and her 5-year-old daughter died of leukemia. However, the fragile and shaken Samantha is determined to make a life for herself. She accepts a position as the principal of Madison Elementary School in Arizona; as a result, she accepts the challenge of turning around a drug- and crime-ridden school with one of the worst reputations in its district. On the first day of school, she discovers the dead body of superintendent Bill Austin, a knife thrust in his back, and she suddenly finds herself embroiled in an intense murder investigation. Other crimes follow, targeting the school administration; Samantha’s own office is vandalized in a horrifying way. Later, she discovers a strange discrepancy in the school budget that may be connected to the crimes, and as she fights to keep the school open, she finds herself unable to trust her own colleagues. She slowly realizes that even her past tragedies might have been orchestrated by someone she knows. This intense, fast-moving drama is gripping and compelling to the last page, and readers will likely admire Samantha’s idealism and strength. Throughout, Samantha shows a fierce determination to help her students and an irrepressible fighting spirit as she battles her own past. Overall, the unraveling mystery, set against the backdrop of a failing elementary school, is a poignant read.
A tightly written, suspenseful mystery.