This very silly book can at best be considered a time filler. The premise is that there exists a “conservatory” devoted to homicide, or, according to its own jargon, deletions. It teaches its students the art of poisoning, disguise, creating alibis, and much more. It is run much like a British prep school, although its actual location is kept from the students, who are taken in blindfolded. I listened to the audiobook which is narrated by Simon Vance (in a very stuffy Etonian accent) and Neil Patrick Harris, who plays Cliff, the male lead, a student bent on killing his employer.
Cliff’s target is the company CEO who modified Cliff’s aircraft design in a way that saved money, but created a deadly flaw that could lead to airliners falling from the sky. He also fired Cliff for pointing out that the change was deadly and framed him so his career was ruined. Other students had equally just reasons for wanting to delete their employers. The incongruity of the stuffiness and propriety of the school while advocating and promoting murder is amusing for a premise, but it doesn’t sustain the book beyond the first page. The students finish their courses and are set forth in the world to complete their “theses,” i.e. the deletions for which they trained. The rules of the school are such that if they fail, they must be deleted themselves as they know too much and pose a threat to the school. Somehow this is only if they fail but not if they succeed. A smidgen of suspense is added by inserting some students who seem deserving of deletion themselves and some innocent people who might be killed or blamed by botched deletions. I’ll leave the outcome of these attempts to you to find out on your own.
The whole idea is ludicrous and so are the convoluted schemes the students, or, I should say, graduates, attempt. Another odd choice of the author is to set this book in 1950. For a while I thought I must have stumbled an old mystery book from that era, but, no, it’s first published in 2023. I can’t recommend the book, but it provided some background noise while I did my email or played solitaire on my computer.