Jess Walker is in her first year at a university in East Anglia, studying an aspect of the works of Agatha Christie. There she falls under the spell of her tutor, Lorna Clay, who happens to be a successful novelist and a Christie expert. Slowly she becomes drawn into a tangled web of secrets and lies with her friends, one that ends in tragedy.
The Truants is the debut novel by Kate Weinberg. It’s an accomplished psychological crime story, with compelling characters and an interesting premise. The love-triangles are carefully constructed and Jess is a flawed but amiable narrator. I did feel a rather unrealistic sense of middle-class angst, one that reminded me of the masterful Donna Tartt novel The Secret History, but without – understandably so – the same quality of writing. The references to Agatha Christie are minimal, and yet this is a nice way of drawing the reader into the story. I suspect it will also have appeal outside of the UK.
There are a couple of nice twists and, although the plot development wasn’t entirely unexpected and unforeseen, the ending was satisfactory enough to tie up the loose ends and offer a fresh insight to what had gone before. Nothing too ground-breaking here, but an entertaining crime novel with a fresh angle on the genre. Recommended.