Detective Chief Superintendent John McLeish and his capable new Detective Inspector Kevin Camberton are faced with a difficult case involving members of the staff and students at the arts-oriented Faraday Foundation School. McLeish’s pregnant wife Francesca (To Die For, 1999, etc.), a music teacher and Bursar at Faraday, is much involved with the potential careers of two graduates: her godson Jamie Miles Brett, a gifted violinist, and countertenor Giles Quentin. But both performers get a big dose of the wrong kind of publicity when the encore to their joint recital at the home of world-renowned conductor Sir Andrew Quentin, Giles’s father, is the discovery of young Catriona Roberts drowned in an upstairs bathtub. Catriona, whose mother, Vivienne, is now married to Faraday teacher Roland Willis, was always an edgy, unattractive problem child with a propensity to wrist-slashing. Though she had just confessed to her own pregnancy, apparently by Giles, her seeming suicide turns out to be murder. Now McLeish and his D.I. begin a round of interviews with the party guests—Giles and Jamie, Vivienne and Roland, teacher Piers Miller, his wife Susie, and others—exploring at the same time a strange contradiction exposed by the coroner. It takes a scary confrontation with Jamie’s crazed father, escaped from a psychiatric facility, to pin down Catriona’s killer.
Interesting people, a challenging puzzle, and a close look at an unusual academic scene: another of Neel’s smartly written, sophisticated tales, with McLeish and Francesca their usual likable selves.