I remember reading this book the first time, and being taken aback by the feral, almost Lord of the Flies, nature of the English boarding school at the center of this installment of the Inspector Lynley mysteries. The fact that it was written by an American was astonishing to me - George seems to inhabit the English mystery as well as any native writer.
I had forgotten, though, the brutality of the book, which just repeatedly punches the reader in the face with twists, each one more terrible than the next. George palms the ace several times, with an easy competence that Christie would approve, turning the readers attention first to one suspect, then the next, until the final reveal.
It's not technically a Murder on the Orient Express reveal, where everyone did it. But, at the same time, George indicts the entire system of prestige boarding schools and the privileged young men it produces, demonstrating the moral bankruptcy at the heart of the honor code with startling clarity. They're all, in their arrogance and superiority, responsible - right down to Lynley, with his difficult in setting aside his own Eton loyalties throughout the investigation of the murder. The parents of the murdered child, outmatched by a system they believed had their son's best interests at heart, are enough to break your heart.
In this book, as in the others, Havers working class background is both a curse and a benefit, and she grapples with her home issues - mentally ill mother, physically ill father - throughout the book, culminating in the death of her father. She is such a good person, good daughter, good detective, wrapped in an unpreposessing package, occasionally obnoxious, but always honorable. The partnership between her and Lynley strengthens with every case they solve.
Given OB's recent review of book 4 as a retrospective, I'm considering skipping the reread of it and moving straight to book 5, For the Sake of Elena, which is a highlight of the series, if my memory serves me correctly.