Author: Charlie Cochrane
Publisher: Riptide Publishing
Rating: 4.5 stars
Type: Novel in Series
Received from Publisher
In the innocent pre-war days, an invitation to stay at the stately country home of a family friend means a new case for amateur sleuths Jonty Stewart and Orlando Coppersmith. In fact, with two apparently unrelated suicides to investigate there, a double chase is on.
But things never run smoothly for the Cambridge fellows. In an era when their love dare not speak its name, the risk of discovery and disgrace is ever present. How, for example, does one explain oneself when discovered by a servant during a midnight run along the corridor?
Things get even rougher for Orlando when the case brings back memories of his father’s suicide and the search for the identity of his grandfather. Worse, when they work out who the murderer is, they are confronted with one of the most difficult moral decisions they’ve ever had to make.
Review: I seem to be on a mystery and detective kick lately and I’m actually delighted. Getting back to my reading “roots” is fun and I’m finding some new authors to put on my reading lists–and Charlie Cochrane is definitely one of them. Her detective couple, Orlando and Jonty, come with their own issues as well–which bring an unusual perspective to the investigations and enhance the setting and delivery of the conclusion in a way I’ve never experienced before. Exceptional writing skills make these period-piece mysteries delectable to read and immerse me into a culture I adore–even if at time the sentiment grows maudlin. Life isn’t perfect, and detective mysteries often underline the sour with the sweet in a way romances can’t–or at least in a very different way.
Jonty and Orlando travel to Fyfield in July 1909 along with Jonty’s parents, the Stewarts. They’ve been “invited” for a visit, but are really undercover, called to investigate a suspicious suicide by Jonty’s mother’s godmother, Alexandra Temple. Apparently it’s catching in the area, because while they’re on the way, they stop at the infamous Monkey Island for a meal and pick up another case–from Young Covington, the gardener there. He entreats them to look into the mysterious February suicide of Charles Livingstone, who’d drowned himself there. How unlikely to have two such suspicious suicides in the same area within the last year?
As the Cambridge Fellows delve into solving the puzzle, coincidences turn into suspicions and links between the two cases become unmistakable. Having two additional hands to aide in the interrogations of suspects helps speed the time involved but doesn’t help the negative turn the investigation is taking. For as astute as the investigators are, sometimes clues don’t come in neat packages labeled as such, and the secrets in a man’s mind are hard to get out into the light of day. Until you can get someone to crack, it’s only supposition.
With the case turning in an unfortunate direction, the Stewarts and Orlando become most uncomfortable. At the same time, Orlando’s memories of his father’s suicide are coloring his mood, bringing not only the tone of the investigation to a somber one but making everyone involved want to finish the case quickly.
But what if what you think happened is unconscionable? Who is the final judge? Not every case is as clear-cut, black and white, and sometimes, it’s better to hide in the grey.
Wonderful setting with a tantalizing, psychological puzzle inside. For those who enjoy Sayers and Christie, behold another to stand in their stead. I enjoyed it immensely and look forward to both reading her backlist and enjoying the new! Thanks CC!