Blog Tour: St Bride’s Series – Dastardly Deeds at St Bride’s – Debbie Young

*I received a free copy of this book with thanks to the author, Boldwood Books and Rachel Gilbey at Rachel’s Random Resources blog tours. The decision to review and my opinions are my own.*

Blurb: When Gemma Lamb takes a job at a quirky English girls’ boarding school, she believes she’s found the perfect escape route from her controlling boyfriend – until she discovers the rest of the staff are hiding sinister secrets:

  • Hairnet, the eccentric headmistress who doesn’t hold with academic qualifications
  • Oriana Bliss, Head of Maths and master of disguise
  • Joscelyn Spryke, the suspiciously rugged Head of PE
  • Geography teacher Mavis Brook, surreptitiously selling off the library books
  • creepy night watchman Max Security, with his network of hidden tunnels

Even McPhee, the school cat, is leading a double life.

Tucked away in the school’s beautiful private estate in the Cotswolds, can Gemma stay safe and build a new independent future, or will past secrets catch up with her and the rest of the staff?

With a little help from her new friends, including some wise pupils, she’s going to give it her best shot…

In this cross between a cosy mystery and a classic girl’s boarding school book from the Enid Blyton era (think Malory Towers, St Clare’s or the Naughtiest Girl books). I honestly wasn’t sure it would work, but the blurb intrigued me enough to give it a go, and I am so glad I did because it really does!

Gemma Lamb is our main character and, as her name implies, the innocent eyes through which we enter the world of secrets at St Bride’s school. Everyone seems to be hiding something, but what is harmless personal history and what could threaten the safety of the staff and students?

There is plenty of mystery here (not of the traditional, murdery kind!), but no actual dead bodies (although it comes close), which makes it an ideal series starter for someone who wants to try mystery but is nervous about the violence. There is a bit of a potential trigger in mentions of a controlling, abusive domestic relationship, but as character backstory this occurs before the start of the story rather than within the pages. And there is a little – very light – romance. In fact, everything from tone to content remains pleasantly light throughout even the mild peril.

The main difference between this book and the traditional boarding school tales of adventure and mischief is that in this series the action focuses on the adults of the school, rather than the children. And I absolutely love the eccentric staff of St Bride’s!

By the finish of the story it was clear that, although the initial problem was solved successfully, there was plenty more potential in the secrets still left to be uncovered. Which makes me very glad that I already have Books 2 and 3 in this series ready to review for you soon!

Much like St Bride’s itself, this story is lovely and a little bit old-fashioned (in the best way), very high quality and good clean fun. It is different from any cosy mystery I have read before, and makes for a very enjoyable, easy read.

‘So, what’s your story, Gemma Lamb?’ asked Max. ‘Anything I should know about you? What are you running away from? That’s what they all do here, you know. They’re all on the run from something.’
I let out a strangled laugh and brushed Joe’s hand away. ‘On the run? What, you mean like criminals?’
Joe slipped his hands into the pockets of his tennis skirt. ‘What Max means is that staff come here for a fresh start. Just like the girls.’

– Debbie Young, Dastardly Deeds at St Bride’s

Author Bio –

Debbie Young is the much-loved author of the Sophie Sayers and St Brides cosy crime mysteries. She lives in a Cotswold village where she runs the local literary festival, and has worked at Westonbirt School, both of which provide inspiration for her writing. She is bringing both her series to Boldwood in a 13-book contract. They will be publishing several new titles in each series and republishing the backlist, starting in September 2022.

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PURCHASE LINK: Dastardly Deeds at St Bride’s ON AMAZON

Don’t forget to stop by the other blogs on this tour (see the poster below for details) for more great content and reviews, including visiting me back here on 23rd and 25th November to find out my thoughts on books 2 and 3 in the series!


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