Mystery Books for Sale

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by Annie Ward
Park Row Books, March 2022
432 pages
ISBN: 0778389405

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

I had hoped to like this book, since it is set in a private school and I spent most of my working career in a (much different) private school. Falcon Academy, of the book, is set in Colorado, where I also spent much of my working career. Sometimes reading books set in a background I know well and with character types with which I am very familiar, can be a bit like coming home. Not so, with this book. The four main characters, Natalie (the school employee who is envious of the lifestyles of the parents), Asha and Brooke (wealthy parents), and Nick (the charismatic gym teacher), are all more caricatures than characters. The secondary characters actually have more depth as the author seems less intent on making a point with them.

For the first half of the book at least, not much happens besides infidelity, suspicions, and queen bee sorts of behaviors from the adults, and drugs and sexting from the teenagers. This inauspicious beginning leads into a scandal that results in a bloody altercation ending with two people being taken from the school on stretchers. Once this plot development takes place, the story rushes to a resolution that clarifies underlying motivations and brings the three female main characters together in what, I assume, is meant by the title. The final sentences of the book provide one of those open-ended twists that is either exciting or frustrating, depending upon the reader's perspective.

The descriptions of the mansions occupied by the parents are extensive and well-written, as are the antics of the wealthy characters who live in them. No adult in the book is really likeable, so it was hard to care what happened to any of them. However, the resolution in which the villain gets their comeuppance is quite gratifying and, if a few laws were broken in the process, that was okay by me. While the teenagers were mostly unlikeable as well, as children none of them deserve what happened to them, and this makes the punishment of the villain even sweeter.

The book kept my interest after the midway point, but I did not find enough depth in it to draw me to read others by this author.

Sharon Mensing, retired educational leader, lives, reads, and enjoys the outdoors in Arizona.

Reviewed by Sharon Mensing, April 2022

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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