In the Study with the Wrench

by Diana Peterfreund

“But it wasn’t the memory of Mr. Boddy’s lifeless form that bothered Scarlett. The headmaster was dead. There were no such things as ghosts, and the house had been thoroughly cleaned. No, it was everything else. The storm and its aftermath had revealed all sorts of problems to Scarlett.

Her best friend was a liar. Her housemate was hiding a huge secret. Her resident proctor was a murderer. And, somehow, she hadn’t picked up on any of it. She’d tried to track down the killer and hadn’t come close. Her instincts were way off.

Scarlett feared that she didn’t have a clue.”

Ratings & Reviews

Book Grade: A-

Clue was a staple in my childhood – I was addicted to the board game and regularly practiced my amateur sleuthing skills with family and friends. Naturally, I was super excited to see a Young Adult-Clue-based series emerge; Diana Peterfreund has done a wonderful job adapting the classic game for a modern generation. Clever twists on the names – Plum, Mustard, Scarlett, and Peacock – serve as charming throwbacks to the board game, but the mysteries at Blackbrooke are entirely new.

Boarding school mysteries are trendy right now, so this was not novel in that regard, and boarding school tunnels seem to be dangerous spots in YA fiction, but I appreciated the twists and turns. The mystery had me hooked and all the little secrets that the characters keep had me second guessing who was telling the truth through the entire story.

I felt that there was a bit too much focus on the wholly unexpected connection between Finn and Mustard, and I didn’t really see how that fit into the plot. I also wanted Rosa’s character to be a bit more developed – she, along with most other secondary and tertiary characters don’t get fleshed out in a way that I would have hoped for or expected.

By the end, though, I was fully needing answers. Like any good YA series, the twists that came in the last few pages ensure that there will be another book in the series and I will have to wait to know the truth. This book is definitely worth reading, and even though you can start with this second book in the series, I think that beginning with book one will make the story so much more thrilling and enjoyable.

Movie Rating: PG-13

In the Study with the Wrench is a wholeheartedly YA mystery. As a result, there is mystery, suspense, a hint of romance, and lots of drama. There is some language, but not enough that I was deterred from reading. There is a long and drawn out kissing scene between two male students which I found distracting and unnecessary.

There is reference to underage drinking and boarding school shenanigans, but this book focuses on the mystery and studying so much that the students can’t really go wild. There are multiple instances of death – or near death – but none of the scenes are described in graphic detail. In general, this is a good fit for YA mystery fans or readers who like a good boarding school whodunit.

Would I Buy This for My Library: Yes

In the Study with the Wrench is a twisty-turny mystery that is totally engaging. It is a quick and easy read with characters who will stick with you long after the book is over. There are definitely unnecessary scenes and moments of over-the-top drama, but at the end of the day, this is a murder mystery with lots of twists and turns! Great for students who love a good mystery, but don’t always want to be caught with a book.

Summary:

In the Study with the Wrench unfolds once school resumes at the elite, but remote, Blackbrooke Academy in Maine. The headmaster’s murder has been solved, but enough people were disturbed by the crime that the student body has been reduced dramatically. Those who do choose to return are ready to begin classes again and prepare for their all important exams which will determine their college fates. Things seem to have returned to normal for “The Murder Crew” – the group of students who helped to solve the unfortunate murder of Mr. Boddy – but things start to unravel and secrets begin to come out.

Orchid (a secret movie star with a stalker) has feelings for Vaughn (who is secretly hiding the fact that he has a twin brother who shares his identity), and Beth “Peacock” is working hard to bury her old identity as an aggressive tennis star with a short fuse. Everything seems to be back to normal until Scarlett and Finn sneak into one of Blackbrooke’s many tunnels and have a body crash into them. The interim headmaster attempts to cover up the incident, only to arouse more suspicion in the students, and when the pieces don’t quite add up, a new student is targeted, and things start disappearing, the “Murder Crew” knows that they need to jump into action.

Will the students be able to solve the mystery before one of them becomes the next victim? Will Blackbrooke ever be safe again? With clever references to the original Clue game, In the Study with the Wrench is entirely modern and thoroughly engaging. It is fast paced and has a twist at the end that will leave you wanting more – more answers and more from Blackbrooke Academy!

Book Talk Questions:

  1. Why doesn’t Orchid share her real identity? Who finds out (in spite of this) and how do they discover the truth?
  2. How are Vaughn and Oliver different (especially with other students)? What is Oliver searching for on Blackbrooke’s campus?
  3. Who is Rosa? Why is she there and what happens to her?
  4. Orchid notices that things keep disappearing. What is one of the main things that keeps vanishing and reappearing and why is it significant to her?
  5. Who was to blame for what happened on campus? What is the true identity of the criminal?
  6. What happens to the car that Vaughn was driving? What does Orchid find when wandering along the path that the car took?

A Perfect Read for Fans Of…

  • Truly Devious by Maureen Johnson
  • In the Hall with the Knife by Diane Peterfreund
  • People Like Us by Dana Mele
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