Stevie‘s review of Lessons in Loving thy Murderous Neighbour (Cambridge Fellows Mystery) by Charlie Cochrane
Gay Historical Mystery published by The Right Chair Press 14 Aug 17
I love the world of the Cambridge Fellows Mysteries, and much prefer their historic version of the University and Town to the more modern version where I was (briefly) a post-grad student. There’s still plenty in the fictional town that will be familiar to anyone who’s visited the real version, and many of the character types and domestic or collegiate situations will be just as recognisable to anyone who’s ever had even a passing interest in the great British university towns and traditions. The real standout crowd-pleasers in the series are, of course, the sleuthing academics: Jonty Stewart and Orlando Coppersmith, along with their long-time colleagues at St Bride’s College: the dons, the porters, and all the other members of their little community. This time, however, it’s their arch-enemy at the dreaded “college next door” who requires the help of a pair of experienced detectives. This isn’t going to be an easy case for the lads to take on, much less for them to solve, since all the evidence appears to be pointing to the fact that the man is guilty.
Dr Owens, Master of Assumption College, has long held a grudge against the men – and occasional women – who inhabit St Bride’s, and the feeling is very much mutual. Now, however, he stands accused of murdering a student and some of those with most reason to dislike him are banding together to uncover the truth. Encouraged by Ariadne Sheridan, now married to the Master of St Brides, who has reason enough to dislike Owens on her own as well as her friends’ behalf, Jonty and Orlando have to overlook past wrongs done to them by the accused and leave no stone unturned (or creepy crawly Assumption man unexamined) in their search for the truth. Fortunately, they soon make a friend of the Assumption College Chaplain, who is also in a very discreet relationship with another man: as devoted, though not as long-established a pair, as Jonty and Orlando, and they are also able to enlist the help of various others about the place as character and material witnesses.
This was a suitably twisty mystery, with a lot of engaging characters and situations. My one regret is that it was a novella, rather than a short novel: there were a few plot threads I’d have liked to see expanded. There are two more novellas on their way, however, so it’s always possible we’ll get to revisit some of the newly introduced characters and situations in those as and when they come out.
Jonty Stewart and Orlando Coppersmith like nothing more than being given a mystery to solve. But what happens when you have to defend your greatest enemy on a charge of murder?
Read an excerpt.