My, but this book has a lot of characters. Too many, in my opinion, because I couldn’t keep track of them all. And then at least two of them have aliases. It’s Dickensian in a way, but most of Dickens’ minor characters are just one and done, and don’t pop up 50 pages later expecting me to remember who they are and why they’re important.
I was excited when I read in the description that this was taking place in an English boarding school. As an American, the differences between the American and British systems intrigue me, and I enjoy books largely set in British schools: the whole Harry Potter series, [b:A Tale Etched In Blood And Hard Black Pencil|289172|A Tale Etched In Blood And Hard Black Pencil|Christopher Brookmyre|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1173447889s/289172.jpg|2712214], [b:Cat Among the Pigeons|16342|Cat Among the Pigeons|Agatha Christie|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1275665326s/16342.jpg|2728434], [b:Nicholas Nickleby|325085|Nicholas Nickleby|Charles Dickens|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1352758388s/325085.jpg|4993095]. So I felt a bit gypped when most of the kids are sent home before we’ve even been properly introduced after the murder which occurs almost immediately. Also, the majority of the novel is set off school grounds. Too bad.
One further gripe, and this is relatively minor, but probably should have been caught in the editing stages: you have a character who is an alcoholic, whose stash of liquor is found and destroyed, but then a day or two later whiskey is easily found when needed for medicinal purposes.
I disliked most the parts toward the end where Symons brings in all the espionage/spy/double agent/war-related bits, which were what I disliked about his [b:The Broken Penny|2805528|The Broken Penny|Julian Symons|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1255806682s/2805528.jpg|2831414], and it has the two main characters fall in love and decide to get married when they’ve only known each other a few days, which is apparently the natural conclusion in these stressful life-and-death situations, but I enjoyed the treasure-hunting parts the most, and when Charles and Hedda are talking to the locals, tying to find information about Johnny Bogue.