About the book:
Eve Mallow’s going back to school! But when a former student is murdered, Eve must discover who taught her a deadly lesson…
Eve Mallow is delighted when she’s asked to cater Founders’ Day at Southwood School. It’s the best – and most secretive – school for miles around, and Eve can’t wait to see what it’s really like. But when she arrives, the atmosphere is far from scholarly. Natalie Somerson, ex-pupil and professional gossip, is the guest of honour, but nobody seems to want her there… especially when her speech stirs up an old scandal about a secret love affair. So why was she invited?
The next morning, Natalie is found dead in a locked attic room. To make matters worse, Eve’s boyfriend Robin becomes the police’s prime suspect. Determined to prove his innocence, Eve starts to investigate everyone with a stake in the school. Is it the prudish principal, worried about Natalie’s influence? Her former teacher, whose life Natalie made miserable? Or the head girl, who seemed to hate Natalie one day and adore her the next?
When strange letters arrive at the school and Eve finds a bottle of Natalie’s perfume in the most unexpected place, she senses time is running out to save Robin’s good name. Eve had better study her suspects and unmask the real killer… before they give her a fatal mark!
An utterly delightful and page-turning English cozy mystery, perfect for fans of Frances Evesham, J.R. Ellis and Agatha Christie.
I do love a good English cozy! Clare Chase delivers with Mystery at Southwood School. Here we find Eve and her friend Viv hired to assist with catering for Founders Day at the prestigious Southwood School. Eve can’t wait to see the school for herself, as it has quite the reputation. But she finds that all isn’t pomp and circumstance in the halls of academia. Former student Natalie Somerson is also there for Founders Day, and while she may be well-known, she is definitely not well-liked. In fact, she seems to delight in stirring up trouble.
When Natalie is found dead, suspicion falls on Robin, Eve’s clandestine love and a former police detective in deep cover to avoid men who would do him harm. He was seen with Natalie, and as a fill-in gardener at the school, he’s a convenient scapegoat for the (rather inept) detective in charge. Eve knows that she has to figure out the truth before Robin’s cover is blown.
I really enjoy this series! Eve is a wonderful character. As an obituary writer, she has the opportunity to interview potential suspects legitimately, and she can often unearth details that people might not mention to the police. This usually leads to her coming up with some idea to find out more by putting herself into precarious situations, which leads to some tense moments and a whole lot of mystery fun.
We learn a bit more about Robin here, and the potential threat to his identity and possibly his life (and Eve’s!) is an interesting story arc. I really like Eve and Robin, and I was holding my breath to see how this thread would play out.
Chase kept me guessing as to who the guilty party really was. There were several people cast as the potential killer – the headmaster’s wife, possibly jealous of Natalie’s interest in her husband; the head girl, whose feelings for Natalie seemed to run hot and cold; Natalie’s current husband, who may or may not have accused her of an affair. But each time I thought I’d figured it out, the story shifted, and the murderer was not who I expected it would be!
Murder at Southwood School is a lot of fun to read. It does what a good cozy should – it entertains, it lets you step outside your normal life for a bit, and it keeps you guessing until the end. I look forward to reading more in this series, and I recommend it to anyone who enjoys a British cozy.
Clare Chase writes classic mysteries. Her aim is to take readers away from it all via some armchair sleuthing in atmospheric locations.
Her debut novel was shortlisted for Novelicious’s Undiscovered Award, as well as an EPIC award post-publication, and was chosen as a Debut of the Month by LoveReading. Murder on the Marshes (Tara Thorpe 1) was shortlisted for an International Thriller Writers award.
Like her heroines, Clare is fascinated by people and what makes them tick. Before becoming a full-time writer, she worked in settings as diverse as Littlehey Prison and the University of Cambridge, in her home city. She’s lived everywhere from the house of a lord to a slug-infested flat and finds the mid-terrace she currently occupies a good happy medium.
As well as writing, Clare loves family time, art and architecture, cooking, and of course, reading other people’s books.You can find Clare’s website and blog at www.clarechase.com
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