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A deeply cynical view of modern British schools pervades this absorbing series launch, which pits a dedicated teacher who prides himself on his eccentricity, against a killer, the police and the educational establishment.
After 17-year-old Jennifer Hyde is found dead, ostensibly after being raped, in a deserted building called the Red House near Birmingham, the police, led by ambitious Chief Inspector Henry Hall, mobilize their resources. But one of her teachers, Peter Maxwell the head of sixth form at Leighford High aka Mad Max to his students and some of his colleagues, feels responsibility for her fate and decides to investigate, questioning police effectiveness and dedication. His probing lands him in deep trouble, as his interest is interpreted as possible guilt or prurience. Another death digs the pit deeper.
M J Trow, author of the Inspector Lestrade crime novels, serves up clever, biting commentaries on modern life and introduces, in Maxwell, a compelling, literate protagonist who quixotically battles the bureaucratic degradation of all he holds dear.