Bumpety-bump-bump down the staircase he goes, leaving Philadelphia’s favorite teacher/snoop (Claire and Present Danger, 2003, etc.) with another fine mess.
Seeking escape from certain rhetorical excesses (Headmaster Havermeyer’s annual address to the student body), Amanda Pepper rounds a corner, steps on a hand, and screams. Well-connected, unlamented Main Line Philadelphian Tomas Severin’s final untoward descent of the down staircase has brought him literally to Amanda’s feet. Amid the deceased’s belongings is a handwritten note containing this cryptic message: “Calls—Amanda Pepper—Philly Prep.” Had this man Amanda had never heard of come to the campus specifically to see her? Things grow even more confounding with the visit of Penelope Koepple, social secretary to Tom’s mother, Mrs. Ingrid Severin. She wants to put the p.i. talents of Amanda and her lover, ex–homicide cop C.K. Mackenzie, to rather equivocal use digging up dirt on Cornelius Westerly, the 32-year-old swain of 78-year-old Ingrid. What does this fine romance have to do with Tom’s downward plunge? Penelope’s not telling. Actually, she’s lying, like virtually everyone connected to Amanda’s attenuated investigation.
A stumble for this usually lively series: slow pace, thin plot, bland Amanda.