Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5
When amateur sleuth Jonty Stewart comes home with a new case to investigate, his partner Orlando Coppersmith always feels his day has been made. Although, can there be anything to solve in the apparent mercy killing of a disabled man by a doctor who then kills himself, especially when everything takes place in a locked room?
But things are never straightforward where the Cambridge fellows are concerned, so when they discover that more than one person has a motive to kill the dead men—motives linked to another double death—their wits get stretched to the breaking point.
And when the case disinters long buried memories for Jonty, memories about a promise he made and hasn’t kept, their emotions get pulled apart as well. This time, Jonty and Orlando will have to separate fact from fiction—and truth from emotion—to get to the bottom of things.
I am always thrilled to find that Jonty Stewart and Orlando Coppersmith have returned for another mystery and here they are back in Charlie Cochrane’s Lessons for Sleeping Dogs better than ever.
With the last few stories we have been flip flopping back and forth along the time line as laid out in the novels released to date. Lessons for Sleeping Dogs now moves that time line forward once more another year. The men are older, their relationship more established and yet, their love for each other has never been so deep and committed as the one we see here. Orlando and Jonty are starting to think past their time at St. Bride’s, perhaps even into retirement age, a startling thought considering we first met them 16 years ago when their world was far more innocent (at least on the surface) and WWI was not even a faint grumbling politically.
Charlie Cochrane is easing her Fellows into the aging process with a smoothness most would envy. Its acknowledged, through a gentle gesture or wry remark, a memory to those so sorely missed, lost to war or old age, and then the story moves on as it should. Its a lovely realistic touch and its inclusion makes me appreciate this author even more.
Oh the mysteries, yes, more than one. I think this must be the most convoluted of them yet. Shades of Sherlock Holmes! There is an echo of an earlier story but you don’t have to have read that to get the gist of it here. Most of that backstory is included. There are several mysteries ongoing at several levels of importance, or so you think. I loved them of course, but I thought that too many puzzles almost took away from the main murder mystery. I get what Charlie was after, but this was a lot to juggle and it was hard for the reader to keep track of all of the facts, places and people while still dealing with the many emotional scenes and fallout for Jonty and Orlando. This aspect of Lessons for Sleeping Dogs kept it from a perfect 5 star rating, but oh it was so close.
There is so much darkness here. The aftermath of WWI lingers on in the broken minds and bodies of the soldiers who returned, included Orlando and Jonty. The bleakness and pain of their childhood must also be dealt with once again as parts of their case brings their memories surging back to overwhelm them. Their past histories are alluded to here but this remains another definite reason why theses stories should be read in order (in my opinion). You can only get the full impact of what happened to them in those previous novels not here. Jonty and Orlando have so many issues to deal with, and they must do it using their hearts, their intelligence and their trust in each other. What a outstanding story to have Jonty and Orlando make their reappearance!
Yes, it all works out. We get to see some of our favorite secondary characters and Hyacinth Cottage. I absolutely loved it. What’s next for Jonty and Orlando? It’s anyone’s guess and only Charlie Cochrane knows for sure. But one thing is for certain, I will be there, waiting in line, to pick up the story and see what happens next and hoping that the author won’t tear my heart out.
I highly recommend this story and all the novels in the Cambridge Fellows Mysteries. I have them all listed for you below. Don’t miss out on any of them.
Cover artist: Lou Harper. I love these new covers. They are my favorite covers so far for the series.