'Excellence by the sea' is the strapline in Stormhaven Towers school's publicity. But when the hard-drinking, heavy-smoking new headmaster, Jamie King, is found dead at the bottom of the town's famous white cliffs, this excellence comes under savage scrutiny. Suicide is assumed at first: King wouldn't be the first tormented soul to have hit those unforgiving rocks. But unanswered questions remain. Forensics find no phone by the body, yet the headmaster always had his mobile with him: 'I wouldn't want to be out when Eton rings!' he used to joke.

Then there is a second death at the school. With the pursuit of excellence exchanged for the pursuit of a killer who is both clever and efficient, the long dark corridors of Stormhaven Towers become an education in fear. Who will be next?

Leading the investigation is the attractive and ambitious Inspector Tamsin Shah, accompanied, rather unexpectedly, by Abbot Peter, recently retired from the deserts of Middle Egypt. Known locally as 'the odd couple,' they have worked together on cases before. But it is surprising that the Abbot should wish to become involved again. The ruthless Shah has brought danger to his seaside door, and, through events at Stormhaven Towers, will do so again . . .


'The plot is absolutely gripping, and what's more, a few of the characters actually display Christian charity.'

Church Times

'Charles portrays the Church of England as more bitchy, and with more egotistical pretty boys, than a Julian Clary lookalike convention. Shades of Agatha Christie machinations, but with rather more attention to character.'

Yorkshire Post

'Along with its adroitly drawn main characters, this gripping novel offers a finely etched supporting cast.'

Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)