Thea Kozak is back, and as feisty as ever! In this newest installment of Kate Flora's Thea Kozak Mystery series, Thea is still working on the healing process. With her gentle giant, Andre, close by, she takes aim, literally, at her insecurities and puts the past where it belongs. Great symbolism. Thea might be down, but she's far from out. She's not invincible, so while she falters at times and loses her edge, she is pugnacious to a fault and never concedes defeat. Much like an old Timex timepiece, Thea âtakes a licking and keeps on ticking.â I absolutely love that about her!
Thea is hoping to enjoy the rest of her weekend with her new hubby, Main State Police Detective Andre Lemieux, when she receives a call from Suzanne, her partner at EDGE Consulting. It seems there is a sticky situation at St. Matthew's, a private New Hampshire boarding school. A female student athlete has accused another student (who just happens to be the grandson of one of the school's most generous benefactors) of stalking - and the school is in dire need of help to defuse the situation. What Thea discovers is that the school really just wants her to rubber stamp her approval of a letter they hope to send out to the parents, basically accusing the female student of fabricating the entire story and thereby holding the school blameless.
A very cursory investigation reveals that the school neglected to follow its own procedures for dealing with accusations, and those who could corroborate the accuser's story were no longer at the school and hadn't even been questioned. Thea smells a coverup and steals herself to sticking around for awhile to sort things out. The school, however, isn't interested in real answers and sends Thea packing. The rejection gnaws a bit on her self-confidence. Has she read the situation correctly or is she completely off base?
When the accused is discovered on campus with the female athlete's older brother standing over his dead body, things at St. Matthew's really heat up, and the school once again calls EDGE Consulting to help avert a crisis. This creates a quandary for Thea. Should she ignore the role those in authority at the school appear to have played in this tragedy, or should she just do her best to cover their behinds no matter what? She is conflicted about just how much useful information she can impart to the police without serving up her clients on a silver platter. She decides that the most ethical course of action is for her to investigate on her own so that she won't be offering up little more than gossip and innuendo.
Thea quickly learns that searching for the truth at St. Matthew's is an unhealthy proposition, and she becomes even more worried about the welfare of Shondra Jones, the 16-year-old accuser. She has no idea that the things she has uncovered thus far are only the tip of the iceberg, and that something far more sinister is festering just below the surface, putting her life, and the lives of those around her, in jeopardy. Ms. Flora has created palpable suspense and a heart-pounding denouement! The issue of stalking is timely and is handled quite well. I beseech the publisher to bring us the next Thea Kozak Mystery as quickly as possible - her adoring public awaits!
Carol Ann H. 5/24/2008