Death of a Schoolgirl
by Joanna Campbell Slan

Berkley Prime Crime, 2012. ISBN 978-0-425-24774-7.
Reviewed by Penny Appleby
Posted on 06/13/2012

Fiction: Mystery

From the beginning, reading Death of a Schoolgirl is like returning to a familiar and comfortable place. Slan takes you right back to Charlotte Brontë's Jane Eyre and once again you are caught up in that timeless story of love and courage. We meet Jane and Edward again shortly after the birth of their son and while Jane is still acclimating herself as the lady of the house rather than a governess.

Drawing upon the characteristics of Jane defined by Brontë, Slan moves the story forward by creating a mystery involving Edward's ward, Adele, who is now attending school in London. A mysterious enclosure containing a death threat in a letter from Adele sends Jane off to London to check on Adele. Edward, who is still recovering from the fire that destroyed the Rochester family home, must wait several days before he can join her there. Jane is not happy to leave her husband and infant son, but she knows that they are in Mrs. Fairfax's capable hands and she is most concerned about her former charge.

Jane's adventure begins almost as soon as she starts the journey to London as plans for a companion on the trip fall through and she must make the trip alone, leaving her vulnerable to a robbery. Jane arrives in London and after stopping briefly at the home of a friend of Edward's where she will stay, she goes to the school. Jane is mistaken as a new teacher and this is fortunate because it gives her the cover she needs to be able to stay at the school and unravel the mystery of the death of one of Adele's school mates and the note in Adele's letter.

Slan has created an engaging mystery and peopled it with dear and familiar characters. Hopefully, there will be other opportunities for Jane to use her innate abilities.

Joanna Campbell Slan started storytelling—and winning awards for her writing—at an early age. Today, she's the author of eleven non-fiction books, a mystery series featuring Kiki Lowenstein, a spunky single mom who loves to scrapbook, and a new series featuring Charlotte Brontë's classic heroine Jane Eyre as an amateur sleuth. Joanna's first novel—Paper, Scissors, Death—was a 2009 Agatha Award finalist. Her Kiki Lowenstein series has been praised by the Library Journal as "topically relevant and chock-full of side stories." Publisher's Weekly calls them, "a cut above the usual craft-themed cozy." Visit her website.

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