This is the third in the Inspector Lynley series, and it was very sad. I suppose all mysteries are sad in their own way, but this one felt especially sad to me.
A school boy at a private boarding school is found dead in a churchyard, naked and tortured.
They have to try to figure out who killed him and why. It rapidly becomes apparent that he was miserable at that school. He hated it and his classmates looked down on him because he was a scholarship recipient and therefore not really of the same class as his classmates.
I detest snobs.
There’s all kinds of weird things happening there at the school. For example, the person from the school board that pushed through the kid’s scholarship appointment had taken interest in another child, about 12 years earlier. It turns out the same school board member had arranged for the child’s adoption privately, an adoption of which no official record exists.
Then there’s the fact that the kid had wired a room for sound and made a recording of another child being bullied, which he used to blackmail the bully into stopping.
I think that’s what made this story feel so sad to me. He was an only child–his parents couldn’t have children of their own, that’s why they adopted–and his parents are, obviously devastated. And the child himself was a sympathetic character, one that tried to protect his friend from a bully without breaking the unwritten school code of refusing to tattle, and who spent his free time visiting a shut in nearby. And he was killed, in part because of his inherent honorable nature.
Still, it’s a good book. Interesting and complex enough to keep you turning the pages.