Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5
I’m a huge fan of Charlie Cochrane. Her love of history and her ability to bring various eras to life vividly and memorably on the page can be seen no where better than her Cambridge Fellows Mysteries. In this series, her remarkable characters Jonty Stewart and Orlando Coppersmith meet in St. Bride’s College, Cambridge, England, 1905. That was their first story Lessons in Love. From that start, we watch these two men grow, sometimes falter, mature, and continue to love each other through the years and history that follows. The last book release was Lessons for Sleeping Dogs (Cambridge Fellows #12) and the year was 1921, setting Cambridge. Of course, they are at their beloved St. Bride’s College, a place that’s kept their secret and them safe all these years.
Their greatest enemy here? Well, that would be their neighboring college next to them…one so dastardly that the name is often never spoken. Especially since its Head has been involved in several imbroglios and a nasty encounter with a beloved member of their small group of friends. Now their are being asked to investigate whether one of their worst enemies could actually be innocent of murder?
What follows is a charming, complicated (it’s Jonty and Orlando of course) murder investigation. It will touch on many past elements and stark realities about that era. Soldiers in what we now call PTSD from the war being one of them, Jonty’s past abuse as a child, and others are all threads included here. If you are unfamiliar with the series, they might slip by you without a much of a trace. But if you are, they deepen much of the poignancy that flows here. Jonty and Orlando have been together 20 years at this point, a lovely measure of time. Yet still the fear of being caught out hangs over them and they are always cautious with themselves and their relationship.
The author bring’s us into Jonty and Orlando’s lives again gently, her conversations with them flows with the language and usage of words of the times yet it never feels forced or hard to read. Indeed, its warm, welcoming, and easy. After all these stories, it feels like walking into the drawing room again and seeing old friends. What a joy. The story flew by all too quickly and it was another case closed before I knew it.
I hope Charlie Cochrane never closes the books on her Cambridge Fellows Mysteries. I hope Jonty and Orlando never really get so old that they can’t go sleuthing together and that St. Bride’s will always be waiting for them when they return home. Unfamiliar with the series? Start today with Lessons in Love and work your way through. There’s some real heartbreakers in the series but don’t worry. The sun continues to shine on them both. This is proof and a great story to boot.
Cover Illustration by Alex Beecroft is utterly charming and perfect for the story. Had no idea this talented author was an artist as well.
Kindle Edition, 82 pages
Expected publication: August 14th 2017 by The Right Chair Press