Book Review: In the Hall with the Knife (Clue Mystery #1) by Diane Peterfreund

Book Blurb:

A murderer could be around every corner in this thrilling YA trilogy based on the board game CLUE!
When a storm strikes at Blackbrook Academy, an elite prep school nestled in the woods of Maine, a motley crew of students—including Beth “Peacock” Picach, Orchid McKee, Vaughn Green, Sam “Mustard” Maestor, Finn Plum, and Scarlet Mistry—are left stranded on campus with their headmaster. Hours later, his body is found in the conservatory and it’s very clear his death was no accident. With this group of students who are all hiding something, nothing is as it seems, and everyone has a motive for murder. Fans of the CLUE board game and cult classic film will delight in Diana Peterfreund’s modern reimagining of the brand, its characters, and the dark, magnificent old mansion with secrets hidden within its walls.

Published October 8th 2019 by Harry N. Abrams

My Review:

Did anyone have a serious obsession with the game CLUE when they were younger? I used to beg my family to play it with me constantly. I’d even let them pick which version we’d play: the VHS, the classic, the one with the cell phones, etc.

There’s just something about solving a murder in a prestigous mansion that draws me in.

The faded glamour of the scene, the cast of suspicious characters, the secret passages and even more secretive motives–I love it all. It’s like putting together a puzzle, except you don’t have to sit there staring at your card table for hours upon end. It’s dynamic, constantly evolving and changing, plus you never know what you’ll find when you peek into the next room.

This book mirrored that CLUE feeling nearly perfectly. I loved seeing the new spaces, meeting the new characters, watching them interact as they solved the mystery. The atmospheric pull had me in its clutches and I loved every second of it. I especially applauded the crisp writing and brisk pacing that transported me so easily to Blackbrook Academy. I couldn’t put this book down, which in my opinion, constitutes high praise for any book.

That being said, it is a CLUE story. There’s a pattern, a rhythm, an algorithm of characters and places that you come to expect from anything CLUE-related. Not to say that it’s a bad thing–when I go to eat a chocolate chip cookie, I want it to be a chocolate chip cookie (and not a cleverly disguised oatmeal raisin imposter). I appreciated the predictability inherent in a CLUE novel. But if you’re hoping for something a bit more uncertain or up-in-the-air, look somewhere else.

Also, keep in mind this is a YA novel. While there is a murder that takes place, the characters’ motives and secrets are a bit tame when compared to the more hard-boiled adult murder mystery novels out there. Again, it’s what I signed up for after reading the blurb, but keep that in mind if you crack this book open and keep expecting the dark and depraved to emerge.

I thoroughly enjoyed this novel! If you love CLUE games and YA mysteries, you can’t go wrong with this choice. 4.5 out of 5 stars (only because I figured out the bad guy based on narrative form rather than plot–but that’s such a small detail).

Published by Elizalaughs

Always aspiring to be better.

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