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What's in a Name challenge review #4: A Knife at the Opera

Although the What's in a Name reading challenge places no restriction on whether or not you own the books you read, I decided to try to use only books I already owned - preferably ones I had not already read - in fulfilling the challenge. This proved somewhat difficult, as it turned out that among my 700+ TBR books I only owned one book that had an item of cutlery in the title, and in the rest of my library there was just one other book with such a title. Its funny, considering I own over 200 cookbooks and you would think that I might own at least one with either spoon, fork, knife or chopsticks in the title. 

As luck would have it, at first I could only find the book I had already read (The Disappearing Spoon by Sam Kean), but when I began hunting for the book with the number in the title I had decided to read, I instead found the TBR cutlery book, which is a good thing because I hadn't planned to reread the other for another couple of years. 

Have you read this book? Why not leave a comment to tell me your thoughts about it?

What's in a Name challenge category: An item or items of cutlery.

Author: Susannah Stacey.
Series: Superintendent Bone, #2.
Genre: Murder mystery.
Published: 1988.

Charlotte, daughter of series detective Superintendent Bone, attends an all-girls' school where they are putting on a performance of The Beggar's Opera. One of the teachers, who was to have performed one of the roles, disappears right before the performance, and a girl steps in at the last minute. 

After the performance, the teacher is found stabbed to dead in the classroom she was using as her dressing room, in the arms of her weeping former lover, who is also a teacher at the school. As Bone was in the audience at the time, he of course becomes the primary investigator of the murder. As the investigation winds on it becomes clear that while some people liked the victim, she was one of those people who are flighty in their personal relationships and have a deep need to win people over and then drops them. This has won her several enemies, but did any of them hate her enough to kill her, or was it perhaps a stranger?

This is the second book in a series and is clearly and annoyingly intended to be read as such - either that, or the authors (there are two) have written the book while keeping certain things from the reader, because Bone and his assistant, D.I. Locker, are simply dropped into the narrative without even the smallest introduction, as if the reader is already supposed to know them well. After that, little snippets of information about them - mostly Bone - trickle in, but not nearly enough for one to form any opinion of either of them. About all I knew about them after finishing the book is that Locker has an infant at home and Bone loves his daughter very much, is a widower, his daughter is disabled after the same accident that killed Bone's wife and son and put father and daughter in hospital, and that he is blond and is considered good-looking by the girls at the school. The best fleshed-out character in the book is his daughter, Charlotte, who isn't even one of the sleuths. Bone could be a puppet or a paper doll, and Locker is the merest sketch of a character, insubstantial and bland. 

The story is nicely plotted, but the only thing drawing me on in the narrative was the desire to know whodunit, and I knew that a little past the halfway point of the story, which is unfortunate, because the big reveal is clearly supposed to be a surprise twist. This isn't a bad little mystery, but there is nothing outstanding about it and to be honest, if I hadn't been in need of finding a book to fill this challenge category, I wouldn't have bothered reviewing it.


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