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The Affliction

Review

The Affliction

Murder at an all-girls school? A social comedy at a picturesque private school campus in New York City? A continuation of a series of murder mysteries by a New York Times bestselling author? THE AFFLICTION is all of the above and so much more. With a keen eye and a penchant for suspense, Beth Gutcheon brings us the second in a series of dark-hearted murder stories that surely will continue her place on the list of books you have to read right now.

THE AFFLICTION begins with the retirement of the headmaster of the Rye Manor School for Girls, a school with a fabled past that is now perhaps beyond its prime. Unfortunately, this Hudson River landmark is trying desperately to stay alive. In the changing climate of a fast-paced world, Rye Manor may not fit in the same way it used to as top educators of young women from good backgrounds.

"No subject is too dire for [Gutcheon's] sharp and witty commentator-protagonists, and this is a fun and well-crafted story."

Maggie Detweiler has retired, but is made the erstwhile top dog on a committee dedicated to discovering whether or not the school has a future and how to ensure it, if that’s even possible. Florence Meagher, a lifelong dedicated teacher at Rye Manor, has one fault, an affliction --- she talks too much about everything to everyone. Well loved at the school, Florence recently told her sister that her marriage is on tenterhooks and that, if anything happens to her, “don’t assume it’s an accident.” Maggie shows up one day to observe Florence’s classes and is told that she is missing. Her husband is annoyed rather than alarmed, and her sister is completely distraught. Maggie is worried about the impact her disappearance will have on the school proceedings.

And then Florence is found dead in a swimming pool. On campus. Maggie agrees to stay on campus to help the new headmaster wade through this horrible crisis, but Maggie, unbeknownst to the school, is also an amateur detective. She solved a crime in Maine the previous year, and her friend, Hope, joins her investigation. The two ladies use their very unorthodox but clever wiles to figure out what is going on. Will the school be saved? Who killed Florence? Will her death be vindicated? Will Hope ever read SILAS MARNER? All questions will be answered for the stealthy reader who can keep up with the twists and turns that make THE AFFLICTION a whole lot of fun.

Gutcheon has admitted that her love for Charles Dickens drove her to create this series. Combining comedy with tragedy and intrigue was Dickens’ hallmark, and Gutcheon does a great job of reviving this time-tested combination in an exciting and hilarious way. No subject is too dire for her sharp and witty commentator-protagonists, and this is a fun and well-crafted story.

Even though it’s still snowing, it’s spring break, and for those of you waiting for flights to sunnier climes, do yourself a favor and pick up this book. Before you know it, you’ll be engrossed, and the craziness of Gutcheon’s world will surpass the craziness of the world we’re all engulfed in these days. THE AFFLICTION is a must read.

Reviewed by Jana Siciliano on April 6, 2018

The Affliction
by Beth Gutcheon

  • Publication Date: March 13, 2018
  • Genres: Fiction, Mystery
  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow
  • ISBN-10: 0062431994
  • ISBN-13: 9780062431998