The search for a missing trophy is complicated by misdeeds of the past.
Ellie Haskell (Withering Heights, 2007, etc.) has no desire to return to St. Roberta’s, the boarding school where she loathed sports and hid a guilty secret. But when her old friend, new games mistress Dorcas Critchley, arrives as an emissary for headmistress Mrs. Battle, Ellie agrees to visit and search for the Loverly Cup, which is due to be passed on to the school that wins that year’s lacrosse championship. Ms. Chips, the beloved retired games mistress who recently inherited a tidy sum, has provided a perfect excuse for Ellie’s arrival by endowing a campus house as a haven for alumna seeking a respite from life’s cares. When Ms. Chips dies in a fall, Ellie and her sleuthing partner Mrs. Malloy must sort through a suspicious lot of students, including spirited Ariel Hopkins, Ellie’s relative; Gillian Parker, a talented musician who is at St. Roberta’s only because her aunt is the matron; and Gillian’s best friend. There are also suspicious adults. These include the matron; a shifty gardener and his meek wife; and Philippa Boswell, whose life Ellie feels she ruined by not coming forward to exonerate her of a rules infraction. They uncover deeply buried secrets that expose a malevolent murderer and wash away Ellie’s guilty feelings.
Engaging Ellie provides a peek at boarding-school charms and horrors while solving one of her more intriguing cases.