Sadly, the author of the much-loved Seven Sisters series passed away last year, but not before completing this posthumously published, rich and suspenseful new mystery set in a secretive countryside boarding school.
Lucinda Riley first started out as a television actress, but her career trajectory changed significantly following a period of illness. Confined largely to her bed, Riley completed her first novel Lovers and Players during her days of recuperation. Several books followed, often set within the glamour and ambition of show business, but her biggest success – the series that made her so well known to the reading world – came when her lifelong love of history met an inspiration spark in the form of a star cluster popularly known as the Seven Sisters. Drawing from her own family history and informed by her deep wish to celebrate the achievements of women, especially in history, the series, which culminated with 2021’s The Missing Sister, enchanted readers throughout the world and scored Riley several bestsellers.
The Murders at Fleat House, which is set in the rural county of Norfolk, England, brings things somewhat full circle as it was while she was in Norfolk that Riley first took inspiration from the stars. But her posthumous novel, being something of a murder mystery, offers us something slightly different.
The Murders at Fleat House
The private boarding school of St. Stephens lies deep in the Norfolk countryside. Secretive, elite and antagonistic toward outsiders, the school has managed its affairs its own way. Until now. When a pupil suddenly and tragically dies on the grounds, the school’s headmaster, ever keen to hush up any threatening event, quickly deems it a sad accident. Local police, however, are not so enthusiastic about this explanation and are compelled to investigate the possibility of foul play. Jasmine Hunter, is the primary detective on the case… but, having abandoned her high-flying police career in London sometime ago, she is only involved as a favour to her old boss.
Looking into the death of Charlie Cavendish and the circumstances that led him there, Hunter is quickly confronted with a slew of troubling details. Cavendish was an acknowledged bully, and any number of other students might have wished him harm. The school cooperates only grudgingly with the investigation, and the staff are set on preserving themselves above all else. So when another young pupil disappears and a elderly teacher is discovered dead, the case only gets more complicated. And more desperate. Winter descends, another pupil goes missing and an especially disturbing discovery within the school quickly makes this the most challenging case of Hunter’s career… and it’s one that she’ll never be able to solve without confronting her own demons and re-examining the events of her past.
A fascinating, enigmatic setting, a rich atmosphere, unexpected subplots and a cast of compelling characters… these all add up to make The Murders at Fleat House a feast for the mystery-lover and a transporting read.