A MelanieM Review: Lessons in Cracking the Deadly Code (Cambridge Fellows #12.7) by Charlie Cochrane

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

St Bride’s College is buzzing with excitement at the prospect of reviving the traditional celebration of the saint’s day. When events get marred by murder it’s natural that Jonty Stewart and Orlando Coppersmith will get called in to help the police with their inside knowledge. But why has somebody been crawling about on the chapel roof and who’s obsessed with searching in the library out of hours?

Yes! The mystery is afoot to borrow another sleuth’s phrase in the latest Cambridge Fellows mystery by Charlie Cochrane.  The author is not following along a specific timeline for her stories, happily for us who follow this series, so here some of our favorite characters like Jonty’s parents can still be seen taking part in solving this  quite puzzling affair. What a joy as I love them so.

In Lessons in Cracking the Deadly Code, St. Bride’s is looking to reestablish many of its older traditions for Saint’s Day, and it has called upon it faculty and staff for assistance.  That includes the mystery of who killed one of its students, and cause behind his death.  Once again it’s Jonty and  Orlando on the job. Orlando especially who was feeling maybe out of sorts, and needing a mystery to solve, got several handed to him.

Because as we all know, nothing is simple in a Cambridge Fellows mystery.  There are layers, and   complications, and a knotted path to follow to the end. A marvelous journey done in companable conversation, affectionate glances, witty phrases (with the  occasional snark thrown in), hewn through years of partnership and love that the author has crafted so carefully and genuinely.  I know these men because I have been through so much with them with this series that coming into this stories feel like visiting with old friends.

Charlie Cochrane is a master at placing her characters and story into a historic setting with accurate touch that’s so subtle that she makes it look easy.  It’s not.  The time period comes alive in her hands just as Jonty and Orlando do, as they have gone through the years in this series, emerging on the  other end of the war, back in England.  All the changes reflected in each story as it is here.  Along with that you get the deepening romance and love over the years of these two remarkable men and often some very gnarly murders as is the case here.

I adore the mysteries Cochrane concocted for this one, all for a story in 110 pages.  Amazing.

I had a great visit and can’t wait to see where the next mystery takes us.  I’m thrilled that the author is happy to go willy nilly all over this couple’s timeline.  I want their journey never to be over and this is a great way to do it.

I highly recommend this and all the Cambridge Fellow Mysteries, but especially 1 through 10 should be read in the order they were written.

Cover art by Alex Beecroft: I love the soft tone of this illustration.  Great for the era and story.  Love the author’s novels too.

Buy Link:  Amazon

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 110 pages
Published November 26th 2018 by The Right Chair Press
ASIN B07JM5Q3J6
Series Cambridge Fellows #12.7

Charlie Cochrane on Christmas, Traditions, and her new release ‘Lessons in Cracking the Deadly Code’ (author guest blog)

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Lessons in Cracking the Deadly Code (Cambridge Fellows #12.7)

by

Charlie Cochrane

Cover Illustrator: Alex Beecroft

Buy Link:  Amazon

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host Charlie Cochrane on tour with her latest story in the wonderful Cambridge Fellows series, Lessons in Cracking the Deadly Code. Welcome, Charlie.

✒︎

Charlie Cochrane on Christmas, Traditions, and Change

 

“Are you trying to ruin Christmas?”

That’s what our daughters said to us earlier this year when we announced our intention of having, for the first time ever, an artificial tree. We’ve always had a real tree, but last year the one we bought from our usual, highly reliable source decided to pop its clogs a few days before Christmas, after only ten days of display, meaning I had to get a last minute replacement. I’m too old for enduring that sort of stress again, so artificial it is (and very nice too). Thing is, our three daughters – who are in their mid-20s – want Christmas to be like it’s always been. In fact, one of them said last year that it gets better and better as they grow older. I’m not sure if that means we’re getting it right or getting it wrong!

Trouble is, I’m just as bad. I’m like the worst sort of overexcited child about Christmas. It begins when I buy lots of things in the January sales to go away for next Christmas, goes onto “simmer” mode through the summer and bursts forth again in November. The Cochrane household at that point starts to fill with: presents bought, wrapped and hidden away; cards written and ready to post; Christmas songs being sung by me and youngest daughter at annoyingly loud volume and other seasonal delights.

The Christmas period also has family traditions that must be observed. Everybody piling into our bed on Christmas morning to open stocking presents. (The girls now give me a stocking, too, so things have definitely got better in that regard.) The Christmas quiz that occupies the time between the main course and the pudding finishing cooking. The Christmas Eve challenge that has included putting names to old family pictures, guessing the flavours of jelly beans and – last year – a Christmas themed ‘escape room’.

If we so much as suggest we change something all hell breaks loose. We’re not necessarily talking about anything as drastic as going to a hotel for a few days – we had to fight tooth and nail to get the main meat on Christmas day changed from turkey to ham, even though none of us like turkey! Does anybody else have this problem?

Lessons in Breaking the Deadly Code

St Bride’s College is buzzing with excitement at the prospect of reviving the traditional celebration of the saint’s day. When events get marred by murder it’s natural that Jonty Stewart and Orlando Coppersmith will get called in to help the police with their inside knowledge. But why has somebody been crawling about on the chapel roof and who’s obsessed with searching in the library out of hours?

About the Author

As Charlie Cochrane couldn’t be trusted to do any of her jobs of choice—like managing a rugby team—she writes. Her favourite genre is gay fiction, sometimes historical (sometimes hysterical) and usually with a mystery thrown into the mix.

She’s a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association, Mystery People, and International Thriller Writers Inc., with titles published by Carina, Endeavour, Bold Strokes Books, and Riptide among others. She regularly appears with The Deadly Dames and is on the organising team for UK Meet.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/charlie.cochrane.18

Twitter: http://twitter.com/charliecochrane

Website: http://www.charliecochrane.co.uk

A MelanieM Review: Lessons in Chasing the Wild Goose by Charlie Cochrane

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

Jonty Stewart and Orlando Coppersmith like nothing more than being handed a mystery to solve. But why would anybody murder a man with no enemies? And was it murder in the first place?

I’m always so thrilled to see another Jonty and Orlando mystery be released from Charlie Cochrane.  It means I get to go back and spend my time with those deeply in love Cambridge Fellows I have come to adore over a series of stories that span 20 years of their lives together in approximately Edwardian England.

While the earlier stories follow a rigid timeline, the later tales are more fluid so I never know where they might fall along the 20 some span of years so far.  Lessons in Chasing the Wild Goose sees them in their later years, post WWI,  where the effects of that war is still raw, on them and England.  Both men still bear the scars of service, inside and out.  And as this story is to prove, they are far from the only ones.

There are so many things I admire about Charlie Cochrane’s writing and this series.  For one, its authentic, from the language down to the accoutrements of the people at every level of society you see within the stories.  And not once will it every feel anything but completely natural and easy (as opposed to a knowledge dump).  You become immersed in the times, first pre-war England and then all the horrors of  WWI, the very first war of devastating impact with chemical weaponry and  more.  We see it all through the eyes of Jonty and Orlando, Jonty’s family, and the extended “family” they have gathered together at St. Bride’s College, where they have taught all these years and met.

Then, there are the characters, no people, you have come to love over the series of stories.  Its not just Orland Coppersmith and Jonty Stewart, but everyone that Cochrane has created as foundation characters, including the Stewart family and the St. Bride’s College staff, from the head of the college right down to the men who take in the luggage and keep the grounds proper.  Not to forget the housekeeper at their cottage or the detectives they work with.  Nope, all real.  And when over the course of the years, some die, as the intrepid Mr. and Mrs Steward did, how I wept with loss.

So you can imagine, jumping into a new mystery is like coming home again.

Here Cochrane has come up with a doozy of a murder mystery. A man is hit by a car but his wife is convinced it was murder.  It kept me guessin with layers upon layers, surrounded with the poignancy of the survivors and the ever  deepening ramifications from WWI upon people and place.  Stepping up is Jonty’s sister and brother in law to help with the mysteries (yes, multiple) as well as the crew from St. Bride’s.

But the best?  Being gently swung back into the loving, long-established relationship of Jonty and Orlando.  It now has all the hallmarks of a couple who knows each other so well they answer for each other,  the adoration for each other, for each other’s intellects  to their aging bodies is cellular that it glows off the page.

How I love them and this series.  Its one of my heartstones of fiction and one I always recommend.  Now I have another story to add to my recommendations.  Love historical fiction and romance?  Pick up Lessons in Chasing the Wild Goose by Charlie Cochrane.  I hope you are familiar with all of the Cambridge Fellows Mysteries, of which this is but one.  Gather them all up and hold them close.  They are true gems!

Cover art: Alex Beecroft.  Love the cover.  Works perfectly for the story and its charming.

Sales Links:  Amazon

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 104 pages
Published March 19th 2018 by The Right Chair Press
Original TitleLessons in Chasing the Wild Goose
ASINB0791HH4VB
Edition LanguageEnglish
Series Cambridge Fellows

On the Cadge -Relaunched Lessons series blog tour with Charlie Cochrane

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On the Cadge -Relaunched Lessons Series

with Charlie Cochrane

 

 

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host Charlie Cochrane as she relaunches one of my favorite series, her Cambridge Fellows Mysteries (aka the Jonty and Orlando stories).  This author has always mixed historical accuracy with a wonderful way with her dialog and settings that kept the feel of her stories deeply settled within the era while never feeling like a dusty history lesson.  No she brings Edwardian, WWI, and posts WWI England alive as well as one of the most delightful (and long established) couples you will want to meet.

Here’s some more thoughts from the author herself….

 

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words Interview with Charlie Cochrane

When did you start writing?

I’ve always had times I’ve scribbled down stories, most of them pretty naff. As a teenager I wrote what I guess would be called slashy fanfic these days and there are not adjectives sufficient to describe how truly awful it was. As I’ve matured, so has my ability with a tale. I hope.

From your books do you have one you like best?

That’s like picking a favourite child – an impossible task. However (and I hope my daughters don’t read this, because they always want to know, “Who’s the favourite?”) However, I’d have to confess that the Cambridge Fellows books will always have a special place in my heart as they were the first full length tales I had published and the two main characters are so easy to write.

Are you character or plot driven?

Character, all the time. My idea of a well developed, extensive plot plan would be “Two blokes, Cornwall” or something similar. I just write and see who comes along and where we get. It sometimes feels like watching (or listening to) a series on television or radio, and discovering the story as it goes along. The beauty of modern writing, word processing and the like, is that if I get down the line and the story changes, I can go back over and make things work very easily.

So, if any characters develop at a tangent, I tend to go with them and see what transpires. I only rein them in if they throw the story too far out of kilter. Sometimes they make the story far more interesting than it was going to be!

If you were in a tight corner and had to rely on one of your characters to save you, which would it be and why?

Ruddy Norah – I’m not sure I’d trust any of them! Certainly not Dr. Panesar, who’s a running secondary character in the Cambridge Fellows books. He’d be bound to make things worse by blowing us up or something. Ariadne Peters, from the same books, is a repository of common sense and Jonty Stewart would certainly  keep us all amused no matter how deep the clart we found ourselves  in. Perhaps I’d have to plump for Jonty’s father, who gives the impression of being capable of dealing with any problem, intellectual or moral. With Campbell, the Newfoundland dog from my contemporary mystery series, the Lindenshaw books, to provide the muscular back up.

If you had no constraints of time and a guarantee of publication, what book would you write?

Can I borrow other people’s characters to play with? I want to write a story where real and fictional characters living in the same area meet and work together to make the world a better place. Imagine the fun if Wilfred Owen and Brother Cadfael teamed up to solve mysteries. Imagine the deep philosophical conversations they’d have at the same time.

 What are your favourite books?

I’ll give you two.

The Charioteer. The writing is wonderful; Mary Renault has an economy of language that every author could learn from – she says more with a simple word like “quite” than most people could in a whole page. I re-read it all the way through at least once a year and dip in and out of it, reading a few pages or scenes, on an almost monthly basis. “Charlie, you’re a sad woman,” you cry, and I might have to agree with you, but it’s like listening to a favourite piece of music. You want to hear that again and again so why not read a particularly pleasing piece of prose as many times as you still find it pleasing?

Death at the President’s Lodging. Michael Innes is more loquacious than Renault, but he’s just as dab a hand at characterization. This murder mystery is also one of the most convoluted I’ve ever read, while being scrupulously fair to the reader. It’s also another annual re-read, especially for the joy of the occasionally (unintentionally?) slashy scene.

And now a confession – I have both of these books in audio version. Now I can top up my re-reads with the occasional “relisten”. I’m sure they inspire both the romantic and mystery elements of my writing.

Cambridge Fellows Series (13 books)

There are 13 primary works and 15 total works in the Cambridge Fellows Series

If the men of St. Bride’s College knew what Jonty Stewart and Orlando Coppersmith got up to behind closed doors, the scandal would rock early-20th-century Cambridge to its core. But the truth is, when they’re not busy teaching literature and mathematics, the most daring thing about them isn’t their love for each other—it’s their hobby of amateur sleuthing.

Because wherever Jonty and Orlando go, trouble seems to find them. Sunny, genial Jonty and prickly, taciturn Orlando may seem like opposites. But their balance serves them well as they sift through clues to crimes, and sort through their own emotions to grow closer. But at the end of the day, they always find the truth . . . and their way home together.

The first book in the series: St. Bride’s College, Cambridge, England, 1905. When Jonty Stewart takes up a teaching post at the college where he studied, the handsome and outgoing young man acts as a catalyst for change within the archaic institution. He also has a catalytic effect on Orlando Coppersmith. Orlando is a brilliant, introverted mathematician with very little experience of life outside the college walls. He strikes up an alliance with the outgoing Jonty, and soon finds himself having feelings hes never experienced before. Before long their friendship blossoms into more than either man had hoped and they enter into a clandestine relationship. Their romance is complicated when a series of murders is discovered within St. Brides. All of the victims have one thing in common, a penchant for men. While acting as the eyes and ears for the police, a mixture of logic and luck leads them to a confrontation with the murderer can they survive it?

 Lessons in Desire (Book 2, Cambridge Fellows Mysteries)

Lessons in Desire is the second book in the gripping Cambridge Fellows series by Charlie Cochrane. Set in Edwardian England, it explores engrossing mysteries and heartfelt gay romances, all set in the historical walls of Cambridge University.”

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B077B7S8F5

 

About the Author

 Because Charlie Cochrane couldn’t be trusted to do any of her jobs of choice—like managing a rugby team—she writes. Her mystery novels include the Edwardian era Cambridge Fellows series, and the contemporary Lindenshaw Mysteries. Multi-published, she has titles with Carina, Riptide, Lethe and Bold Strokes, among others.

A member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association, Mystery People and International Thriller Writers Inc, Charlie regularly appears at literary festivals and at reader and author conferences with The Deadly Dames.

Website: http://www.charliecochrane.co.uk

Blog: https://charliecochrane.wordpress.com/

FB: https://www.facebook.com/charlie.cochrane.18

Twitter: https://twitter.com/charliecochrane

GR: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/2727135.Charlie_Cochrane

A MelanieM Release Day Review: Lessons in Loving thy Murderous Neighbour: A Cambridge Fellows Mystery novella (Cambridge Fellows Mysteries) by Charlie Cochrane

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Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

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?

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.

Buy links:    Amazon | Amazon UK

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 82 pages
Expected publication: August 14th 2017 by The Right Chair Press
ASINB073Z3LL3K

Charlie Cochrane On Her Obsessions with Pre/Post 1900’s and ‘Lessons in Loving thy Murderous Neighbour’ (Guest Post, Excerpt, and Giveaway)

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Lessons in Loving thy Murderous Neighbour:
A Cambridge Fellows Mystery novella (Cambridge Fellows Mysteries)
by Charlie Cochrane
Alex Beecroft  (Illustrator)

Buy links:    Amazon | Amazon UK  

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host Charlie Cochrane here today with her new Cambridge Fellows Mysteries story, Lessons in Loving thy Murderous Neighbour! Welcome back, Charlie! 

✒︎

 

Charlie Cochrane on Her Obsession with Pre and Post 1900’s

I’m obsessed with the era either side of 1900. To the extent that if I buy (or borrow from the library) any new books set in the era I have to smuggle them into the house in a plain brown wrapper or my daughters tell me off. I try to pretend they’re for research purposes (I write many of my stories in the Edwardian/WWI era) but that’s stretching the truth. It’s the characters who fascinate me.  Sassoon, Owen, Brooke, Graves, Gurney and the rest – I can lap up both their works and their life stories.

Okay, you might say, that’s all very well setting a context for your writing but how does the romantic element work in?  The simple answer is that Siegfried Sassoon was gay, Wilfred Owen was gay, Rupert Brooke and Robert Graves had experienced homosexual encounters/longings, Vera Brittain’s brother Edward might have sacrificed himself in the line as he was under suspicion of sexual relations with his soldiers…the list goes on. Scratch the surface of almost any of the WWI poets and you find some connection (personal or through friends) to what would have been, at the time, a deliberately hidden world of gay men.

It’s a strange era, with a bit of a dichotomous feel. On the one hand the disgrace of Oscar Wilde would still have been sharp in the nation’s memory but Robert Ross, Wilde’s lover and staunch supporter, still had a sort of coterie in London where several of these poets congregated. (Owen, whose one extant letter to Sassoon suggests he was in love with him, got drawn into this network after meeting Sassoon at Craiglockhart.)

Inevitably, given the illegal status of homosexual relationships, cover ups were ripe. Edward Brittain’s commanding officer kept the story of his impending enquiry secret until he was attacked in print by Vera Brittain. Sassoon’s autobiographical novels skirt around his sexuality and he destroyed some of Owen’s letters to him for which the poet’s brother Harold was grateful. Harold did much (through both his own biography of his brother and destroying much of Wilfred’s correspondence) to sanitise the poet’s image; I wonder what he thought about Wilfred’s poem on the subject of rent boys, “Who is the God of Canongate”?

Because of the secrecy gay men had to live under, mysteries remain, some of which we may never be able to solve. Did Edward Brittain deliberately choose death in combat over disgrace? Was Wilfred Owen seduced by Charles Scott Moncrieff? Was the death by drowning of Michael Llewelyn Davies part of a suicide pact? How can we understand the lives of gay men at a century’s remove? Read the most up to date biographies, clearly, especially those which rely on first hand sources. (Dominic Hibberd’s “Wilfred Owen a new biography” is one of my brown paper wrapped books.)  Access correspondence from the time, and look at the changing drafts of the poems. Read the finished poems themselves, with the gift of hindsight. Maybe you’ll end up like me, so inspired by the tales you’ve heard that you’ll want to write about the era.

Title: Lessons in Loving thy Murderous Neighbour (m/m mystery)

Blurb:

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?

Excerpt:

Cambridge 1922 

“Owens? Owens?” Orlando Coppersmith’s voice sounded louder, and clearer, from his chair in the Senior Common Room at St Bride’s than it had ever sounded before. And with good cause.

“Steady on, old man. We’re in enough of a state of shock without you making sufficient noise to wake the dead.” Jonty Stewart smiled at his friend’s uncharacteristic outburst. Although friendship would hardly be the most accurate way to describe their relationship. Even the description “lovers, companions, colleagues and partners in solving crime” didn’t quite cover the depth of the bond they’d build up in nigh on twenty years. If their hair bore the odd silver thread, their ardour hadn’t cooled.

“Wake the dead or, harder still, wake some of the dons,” Dr. Panesar agreed, mischievously.

“Good point, Dr. P.” Jonty sniggered. “Some of them give the impression they’ve been asleep since 1913.”

A quick glance around the oak panelled room supported his assertion. St. Bride’s may have been one of the most forward looking of the Cambridge colleges, embracing the fact the year was 1922 rather than pretending it was still 1622, but some aspects of the university, including crusty old dons, seemed to be an immutable fixture.

“In which case,” Orlando pointed out, “we’d have ten years of history to explain to them, much of it unpleasant, let alone this latest scandal. St. Bride’s men being asked to defend Owens. What is the world coming to?”

About the Author

Because Charlie Cochrane couldn’t be trusted to do any of her jobs of choice—like managing a rugby team—she writes. Her mystery novels include the Edwardian era Cambridge Fellows series, and the contemporary Lindenshaw Mysteries. Multi-published, she has titles with Carina, Riptide, Lethe and Bold Strokes, among others.

A member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association, Mystery People and International Thriller Writers Inc, Charlie regularly appears at literary festivals and at reader and author conferences with The Deadly Dames.

www.charliecochrane.co.uk

Giveaway

Comment below for the chance to win an audio copy of Lessons in Love. One winner to be drawn from total comments from all blog tour stops.

A MelanieM Review: Lessons for Sleeping Dogs (Cambridge Fellows #12) by Charlie Cochrane

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Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

Cambridge, 1921

LessonsForSleepingDogs_600x900When 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.

Sales Links:  Riptide Publishing | All Romance (ARe) | Amazon | Buy It Here

Book Details:

ebook, 243 pages
Expected publication: October 12th 2015 by Riptide Publishing

 

 

 

A MelanieM Review: Lessons for Idle Tongues (Cambridge Fellows #11) by Charlie Cochrane

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Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Cambridge, 1910

LessonsForIdleTongues_600x900Amateur detectives Jonty Stewart and Orlando Coppersmith seem to have nothing more taxing on their plate than locating a missing wooden cat and solving the dilemma of seating thirteen for dinner. But one of the guests brings a conundrum: a young woman has been found dead, and her boyfriend is convinced she was murdered. The trouble is, nobody else agrees.

Investigation reveals that several young people in the local area have died in strange circumstances, and rumours abound of poisonings at the hands of Lord Toothill, a local mysterious recluse. Toothill’s angry, gun-toting gamekeeper isn’t doing anything to quell suspicions, either.

But even with a gun to his head, Jonty can tell there’s more going on in this surprisingly treacherous village than meets the eye. And even Orlando’s vaunted logic is stymied by the baffling inconsistencies they uncover. Together, the Cambridge Fellows must pick their way through gossip and misdirection to discover the truth.

When I first fell in love  with Orlando Coppersmith and Jonty Stewart in Charley Cochrane’s first Cambridge Fellows Mysteries, Lessons in Love (Cambridge Fellows, #1), I had no idea I was letting myself into a long time love affair with these characters and this amazing author.  Yes, the  attention to time period minutiae was perfection, as was the way the author folded it into the story.  Yes, even the conversations were spiced up and made relevant to the era and social strata by the appropriate language and verbiage the author employed to great impact in her narrative. So much so I often had to resort to some research of my own to figure out what certain terms and slang meant to a modern-age American.  Some of the elements of the story were steeped in English history and others simply in the English culture but whatever my temporary source of bafflement, my interest in this unique and fascinating couple never wavered…not once.

Orlando and Jonty were so very different in those early days.  They had the struggle to adjust to each other’s presence, and then to each other’s attraction and then the unalterable fact they were falling into love…all during a time when this mean jail and often death.  And it was carried out in the somewhat cloistered halls of St. Bride’s College, a place of high learning, occasional high spirits and hijinks until murder finds its way there.  And then the sleuths were off on a perilous investigation that included self discovery and more than a little affection.

I have laughed and bawled my eyes out along the way as Jonty and Orlando moved through the years and the vagaries of their changing culture and historical events.  And with each book, mystery, and time frame, I fell completely under their spell and forever in love.  And that’s due to the superb talent and depth of characterization that Charley Cochrane employs.

Like punting along a waterway (as Jonty and Orlando are fond of doing), all can seem serene in one of  the Cambridge Fellow Mysteries but it’s what lurks underneath that gives these characters and their stories such dimension and sometimes shocking humanity…and you would never suspect that its there, at least not at first.  Because the civility and tone of the story and language lulls you into a state similar to a promenade or arm in arm stroll in the gardens. It’s a lovely feeling, carefree and delightful. Until murder strikes or some horrific fact pops up to let you know that the deep waters were there all the time and you were merely treading water.

Here in the 11th story, that is never more apparent.  A simple mystery leads to the deeper, more complex one, and then the smoke and shadows of multiple lies or omissions lead Orlando and Jonty into a maze of betrayals, murder, and complicity.  And even as Cochrane is leading us and our Cambridge Fellows on a deep and convoluted trail, she manages to allude to some of this series most horrific elements and facts with a deft turn of  phrase or haunted look.  I will tell you that Orlando can suffer from deep depression (a fact that figures greatly into the earlier stories).  And that something extremely damaging happened to Jonty in his early days at boarding school.  And nothing more.  For those momentous discoveries, I will send you back to the beginning story and ask that you wind your own way through the various stages of their relationship and personal disclosures.  It’s a journey not to be missed and one you will take again and again.  And that knowledge will enhance your enjoyment here in Lessons for Idle Tongues (Cambridge Fellows Mysteries #11).

I didn’t figure out all the intelligent clues and facts strewn about the story.  How I adore that!  There are wonderful literary allusions, more terminology to investigate (Bertillon measurement, anyone), and that magnificent Stewart family as a whole to enjoy and revel in.  I laughed, frowned in puzzlement, and throughly enjoyed myself at every page.  And then started the story all over again.  Lessons in Idle Tongues is amazing, Charley Cochrane’s writing is deftly accomplished, the pace sprightly for a complicated mystery, and the whole story comes together just as it should and will leave you still wanting more.  Thank goodness, we are going to get it.

Can you read this as a stand alone story?  Probably (I say with great reluctance).  There is enough context here that you don’t need to have read the other stories to get great pleasure from Lessons for Idle Tongues.  But that statement comes with a caveat…the same cannot be said for the earlier stories.  This especially holds true for the books All Lessons Learned and Lessons for Survivors (#8 and #9).  Remember as the men are moving into their relationship, the years are changing as is history.  Those have to be the two most memorable books Cochrane has yet written for Orlando and Jonty.  But their power and impact is built upon the foundation stones of the previous stories.  Why not grab up all of them together and binge read? Riptide and Samhain Publishing are working together so that’s possible.  Two new books and a complete set of stories…I love it!  Charlie Cochrane’s Cambridge Fellows Mysteries remains one of my most highly recommended series.  Lessons for Idle Tongues  is a marvelous new addition to that amazing group of novels.

I have listed them all for you at the bottom.  Use it as a checklist or TBR list, whatever works best for you.  Don’t let this story or any of those books pass you by!

Cover art by Lou Harper does the couple and series justice.  I love it!

Sales Links:  Riptide Publishing |  All Romance (ARe)  |  Amazon  |  Buy It Here

Book Details:

ebook, 241 pages

Published June 29th 2015 by Riptide Publishing
ISBN139781626492714
edition language,English
url http://riptidepublishing.com/titles/lessons-for-idle-tongues
series Cambridge Fellows #1

Cambridge Fellows Mysteries in the order they were written and should be read (imo):

Get 30% off books 1-8 of the Cambridge Fellows Mysteries, exclusively in a bundle from Samhain!

 

Back to the Past with Lessons for Idle Tongues from Charlie Cochrane -A Special Interview with Orlando & Jonty (giveaway)

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Lessons for Idle Tongues (Cambridge Fellows #11)
by Charlie Cochrane
Riptide Publishing

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Cover art by Lou Harper

Sales Links: Riptide Publishing

It’s no secret that I’m a huge fan of Charlie Cochrane and her Cambridge Fellows Mysteries, featuring Jonty and Orlando.  It is one of my highly recommended series, and the terrific story, Lessons for Idle Tongues is being published by Riptide Publishing.  And to celebrate, author Charlie Cochrane is here and interviewing those incorrigible and loving duo, Jonty and Orlando.

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Interview with Jonty and Orlando

While reading her favourite mystery, Death at the President’s Lodging, Charlie Cochrane was struck by some particularly “slashy” scenes and wondered why there were no Classic Era mysteries featuring a pair of gay detectives. There were gay men at the time, so couldn’t they have taken up their magnifying glasses and got sleuthing? Frustrated at finding no answer to her conundrum, she set out to write her own stories. Here she interviews her two sleuths.

CC:  Can you tell the readers where you live?

Orlando Coppersmith: Cambridge.
Jonty Stewart: Cambridge in England. There’s another one in America, you know, Orlando.
Orlando: Really? How astonishing.
Jonty: We live here because we’re both based at St. Bride’s College, trying to knock some sense into our students. I teach them about Tudor Literature.
Orlando: And I lecture in Mathematics.
Jonty: Orlando’s worryingly bright.

CC: Did the events of your early life influence you in solving mysteries?

Orlando: Yes. Well. Hm.
Jonty: What Orlando means is that neither of us had that easy a start in life. His family were…not exactly loving. Would that be fair?
Orlando: It would. I’m not as lucky as Jonty, who has an extraordinary family with whom I get on very well.
Jonty: He means I have a very loud mother who’s madly in love with him and a terrifyingly clever father who likes to solves cryptograms with him. He wins all round.
Orlando: Meeting Jonty showed me that all sorts of things in life were possible. Love, friendship, going out and using my brains for something other than mathematics. He changed my life.
Jonty: Daft beggar. Meeting Orlando gave me hope at a time when I was a bit low. I had a rough time of things at school and it came back to haunt me at times. He changed my life, too.

CC:  Do you see yourselves as policemen?

Jonty: Oh I say, Orlando. Steady there. (He whacks his back.) I’m afraid that the police wouldn’t exactly approve of our relationship. Up before the beak and two years hard labour if they knew what we got up to in private.
Orlando: We’re amateur detectives, although we do work alongside the police when need be. That’s how we got started, acting as the eyes and ears for Inspector Wilson of the local force when there was a series of murders in St. Bride’s. (Lessons in Love)
Jonty: We get commissions, too. People ask us to solve crimes, particularly old ones.
Orlando: Sometimes hundreds of years old.
Jonty: Nearly as ancient as you, Orlando.
Orlando: Very funny.

CC: Do people contact you like they contacted Sherlock Holmes?

Jonty: You said the ‘S’ word. Orlando won’t approve. I like Holmes – and Watson, he’s a marvellous bloke – but old grumpy guts here thinks Sherlock’s a bit of a smarty pants.
Orlando: I refuse to comment. And don’t call me “grumpy guts” in public.

CC: What’s been the most outrageous thing you’ve done in the cause of investigation?

Jonty: What about the time you had to pose as a gigolo?
Orlando: I was not a gigolo. I was a professional dancing partner. Next question, please, before my “friend” finds anything else to make fun of me about.

CC: In the course of your investigations, have you encountered important historical figures?

Jonty: Figures from the past, yes. When we solved the Woodville Ward mystery we ran across Richard III, Henry VII and Elizabeth Woodville. Orlando’s almost old enough to remember being dandled at their knees.
Orlando: Don’t forget, I’ve worked out at least three foolproof ways of murdering you without the risk of being caught. Actually, he’s hiding his light under a bushel, again. He’s the one who got dandled at royalty’s knee. The Stewarts are all very pally with the royal family.
Jonty: That’s what got us involved in the gigolo – sorry, dancing partner – case. The king’s old mistress died under mysterious circumstances and they needed someone of discretion and good sense to put into the hotel where it happened. Nobody like that was available, so they asked Orlando.
Orlando: Excuse me while I resort to method number one.

CC:  Presumably you are somewhat familiar with our early 21st century, after conversations with your author. What would you most like to take back to Edwardian times?

Jonty: The freedom to hold Orlando’s hand in public – at least in Brighton. Not that he’d let me, probably, being a shy old stick, but the opportunity would be nice.
Orlando: I’d welcome the chance of entering into a Civil Partnership with Jonty. An official declaration of how much we mean to each other.
Jonty: I’d like to fly in one of your modern aeroplanes. How wonderful to cover the length of the British isles in little more than an hour. And going to Jersey without resorting to a ship would be good, wouldn’t it, Orlando? He gets sick as a dog when we sail.
Orlando: Hm. In his case it might be an Uncivil Partnership.

CC:  I’m sure you’d never murder anyone, but is there someone, whom you’d like to murder if you could?

Orlando: Owens, from “the college next door”.
Jonty: He’s St. Bride’s arch-enemy and any decent college man would strangle him with his own bicycle clips.
Orlando: I’ve devised two other foolproof and undetectable methods of murder, just for Owens.
Jonty: I said he was frighteningly clever, didn’t I? If he ever took to a life of crime, we’d all be doomed.

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About Lessons for Idle Tongues (Cambridge Fellows Mysteries #11)
Cambridge, 1910

Amateur detectives Jonty Stewart and Orlando Coppersmith seem to have nothing more taxing on their plate than locating a missing wooden cat and solving the dilemma of seating thirteen for dinner. But one of the guests brings a conundrum: a young woman has been found dead, and her boyfriend is convinced she was murdered. The trouble is, nobody else agrees.

Investigation reveals that several young people in the local area have died in strange circumstances, and rumours abound of poisonings at the hands of Lord Toothill, a local mysterious recluse. Toothill’s angry, gun-toting gamekeeper isn’t doing anything to quell suspicions, either.

But even with a gun to his head, Jonty can tell there’s more going on in this surprisingly treacherous village than meets the eye. And even Orlando’s vaunted logic is stymied by the baffling inconsistencies they uncover. Together, the Cambridge Fellows must pick their way through gossip and misdirection to discover the truth.

About Author Charlie Cochrane:

As Charlie Cochrane couldn’t be trusted to do any of her jobs of choice—like managing a rugby team—she writes, with titles published by Carina, Samhain, Bold Strokes, MLR and Cheyenne.

Charlie’s Cambridge Fellows Series of Edwardian romantic mysteries was instrumental in her being named Author of the Year 2009 by the review site Speak Its Name. She’s a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association, Mystery People, International Thriller Writers Inc and is on the organising team for UK Meet for readers/writers of GLBT fiction. She regularly appears with The Deadly Dames.

Connect with Charlie:

Website:http://www.charliecochrane.co.uk/
Blog: charliecochrane.livejournal.com/
Twitter: @charliecochrane
Facebook profile page: facebook.com/charlie.cochrane.18
Goodreads: goodreads.com/goodreadscomcharlie_cochrane
Riptide Publishing’s Author Page

 

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Lessons for Idle Tongues Giveaway:

Cambridge Mysteries bundle

Every comment on this blog tour enters you in a drawing for a title from Charlie Cochrane’s backlist (excluding Lessons for Idle Tongues.) Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on July 4. Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries. Don’t forget to add your email so we can contact you if you win!  Must be 18 years of age or older to enter.  Prizes provided by the author and Riptide Publishing.

Cambridge Fellows Mysteries Bundle Sale!

Get 30% off books 1-8 of the Cambridge Fellows Mysteries, exclusively in a bundle from Samhain!

Cambridge Fellows Mysteries

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If the men of St. Bride’s College knew what Jonty Stewart and Orlando Coppersmith got up to behind closed doors, the scandal would rock early-20th-century Cambridge to its core. But the truth is, when they’re not busy teaching literature and mathematics, the most daring thing about them isn’t their love for each other—it’s their hobby of amateur sleuthing.

Because wherever Jonty and Orlando go, trouble seems to find them. Sunny, genial Jonty and prickly, taciturn Orlando may seem like opposites. But their balance serves them well as they sift through clues to crimes, and sort through their own emotions to grow closer. But at the end of the day, they always find the truth . . . and their way home together.

,[STRW Note: I highly recommend reading them in the order they were written in order to understand the relationship as it builds, the men, and the times.  This is especially true for books starting with Lessons in Trust, All Lessons Learned and Lessons for Survivors which hold huge spoilers and surprises for the previous books]

Publisher Note:Cambridge Fellows mysteries may be read in any order but for those who wish to read in release order, they are:

Lessons in Love (Cambridge Fellows Mysteries #1)
Lessons in Desire (Cambridge Fellows Mysteries #2)
Lessons in Discovery (Cambridge Fellows Mysteries #3)
Lessons in Power (Cambridge Fellows Mysteries #4)
Lessons in Temptation (Cambridge Fellows Mysteries #5)
Lessons in Seduction (Cambridge Fellows Mysteries #6)
Lessons in Trust (Cambridge Fellows Mysteries #7)
All Lessons Learned (Cambridge Fellows Mysteries #8)
Lessons for Survivors (Cambridge Fellows Mysteries #9)
Lessons for Suspicious Minds (Cambridge Fellows Mysteries #10)
Lessons for Idle Tongues (Cambridge Fellows Mysteries #11)
Lessons for Sleeping Dogs
The first eight books in the series are with Samhain Publishing. You can purchase them wherever ebooks are sold.

– See more at Riptide Publishing’s Cambridge Fellows Mysteries page.