The Temple House Vanishing: dark extremes behind disappearances from a school

Book review: Rachel Donohue has the ability to create atmosphere or ratchet up tension in a couple of beguilingly simple sentences

Rachel Donohue: she is a master of clean, sharp prose. Photograph:  Shane O’Neill, SON Photographic

Rachel Donohue: she is a master of clean, sharp prose. Photograph: Shane O’Neill, SON Photographic

“It began with death, my time in Temple House.” For those of us who grew up reading Enid Blyton’s Malory Towers and St Clare’s before graduating to such chilling greats as Donna Tartt’s The Secret History and Joan Lindsay’s Picnic at Hanging Rock, the school-set mystery genre can never lose its appeal.

At first glance Rachel Donohue’s much-anticipated debut appears to be a perfect fit: an upmarket mystery set in a remote Catholic boarding school, featuring the cold case disappearance of a teenager and her teacher. So far, so central casting, so straightforward.

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