Death of a Schoolgirl spins off from Charlotte Brontë’s classic novel. Here, Jane Eyre becomes an undercover sleuth who investigates the suspicious death of a teenage girl.
Now happily married to Rochester and a new mother, Jane receives an alarming letter from Adèle Varens, Rochester’s ward, who is living at a girls’ school in London. The letter, which contains a hidden message, leaves Jane concerned for Adèle’s safety.
She decides to travel to London to check on Adèle, but she has to leave behind Rochester, whose vision is declining. Her journey is fraught with disaster. She is involved in an incident that becomes a mystery within a mystery (which is resolved, as these things tend to be, at the end of the novel).
She finally arrives at Adèle’s school only to discover that one of the students died the previous night. Mistaken for the new German teacher, Jane decides to work undercover at the school to determine how Adèle’s classmate died and who might be responsible.
Jane learns that every staff member and student had a motive for killing the schoolgirl, which doesn’t initially bode well for her investigation. As the clues she uncovers lead her closer to the murderer, they also lead her closer to danger herself. Ultimately, she does solve the mystery, and the ending has a nice twist.
Voracious readers of mysteries might figure out whodunit before the killer is revealed, if they pick up on the subtle clues that eventually lead Jane to the culprit. I only read mysteries occasionally, so I missed those little hints and was kept in suspense up until that moment.
Reading this novel is like visiting an old friend. Slan stays true to Jane Eyre’s character, and the storyline is a seamless progression of the original novel. Brontë fans and historical mystery fans alike will find much to enjoy in Death of a Schoolgirl.