The Truants (by Kate Weinberg)

Lorna once asked: “What is it about an unsolved mystery that captures us so that makes us lean forward looking for an answer?”

The Truants (by Kate Weinberg)At the heart of this mystery is Agatha Christie. There are references to her and her novels throughout the story. I am not familiar with Agatha Christie novels! Does she have heroes and anti-heroes? Probably not. Lorna a charismatic “Prof” at a British University is the ant-hero, and Jess (the student) is the hero (although as the story unfolds Jess’s status becomes suspect). The main cast includes a close friend Georgie who is eventually betrayed by Jess. Nick – Jess’s patient boyfriend, and Alec the South African cad who is an inveterate liar. Finally “Steady” is Lorna’s mature partner for most of the story.

As the characters are introduced Jess and Georgie attend Lorna’s classes at uni, and Jess becomes besotted with Lorna’s personality and charismatic lectures. Lorna is an expert in Agatha Christie’s novels. Jess falls in love with Nick but Alec is enchanting her. You might think this is just a romantic story! Alec jumps from one bed to another, and part of the mystery maybe who is next for his attentions! Even at this stage the novel is enchanting as the relationships between Alec and Georgie, Jess and Lorna evolve.

But, a mystery element is added to the mix with devastating effect. Alec is reported to have died in S Africa. The writing ramps up a gear, and an underlying menace is introduced. Jess’s trip to an island off Sicily with Lorna reveals more.

There are plenty of twists and turns before the big reveal. A great novel which Agatha Christie would have enjoyed. So good in fact, you do not want it to end.

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