In the Hall with the Knife by Diana Peterfreund is a teen fiction mystery novel about the death of Blackbrook Academy’s Headmaster Boddy. When a vicious winter storm strikes the coast of Maine, where Blackbrook Academy is located, a group of students and staff are stranded in one of the safest buildings on the campus: the Tudor House. The crew of students is made up of Beth “Peacock” Picach (the star athlete), Scarlett Mistry (the queen bee), Finn Plum (the scientist), Orchid McKee (the wallflower), Vaughn Green (the “townie”), and Sam “Mustard” Maestor (a military academy transfer). They are left with Mrs. White, Rusty Naylor, and Headmaster Boddy, until Boddy’s dead body is found in the conservatory with a stab wound. Each with their own secrets to hide, the students embark on an investigation to discover what actually happened to Boddy, whether they are safe at Tudor House, and whether there is a killer among them.
I loved the mystery within this book, but I did find it a bit cheesy and hard to follow at times. I have always been a huge fan of the board game Clue, and so when I saw this book I had to read it. However, the book follows the board game a little bit too much for my liking. Diana Peterfreund put a sort of emphasis on the inclusion of certain rooms and weapons within the house that are included in the board game, but I felt that it was unnecessary to make special note of “the candlestick that was knocked over in the study”, or “the lead pipe that she used as defense”, etc. Because there were so many characters, each with their own backgrounds and secrets, it was hard for me to keep track of the story at the beginning, but as I read further into the novel I began to grow connections with the characters within the book. That being said, I loved how each chapter showed a different student’s point of view. This helped me come to my own conclusion about the death of Headmaster Boddy, which is my favorite thing to do when reading a mystery novel.
The plot of this novel was also very well laid out in my opinion. I did enjoy Peterfreund’s characterization and her ability to tie in each of the characters’ personas to reveal the mystery at the end. Near the beginning of the book, I had suspicions about a certain character, and I turned out to be correct in the end! All-in-all, the murder was pretty easy to follow, but it was still a great read that kept me doing some pondering of my own throughout the book.
I think that the cover pretty accurately sums up the gist of this read, and effectively conveys that this is a mystery novel with a large line of suspects. Overall, I would give this book 3 stars because I enjoyed it, but it didn’t wow me or anything. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who loves a good mystery or who enjoys playing the board game Clue!