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review 2015-10-04 13:18
Review: Lessons in Desire
Lessons in Desire - Charlie Cochrane

With the recent series of college murders behind him, Cambridge Fellow Jonty Stewart is in desperate need of a break. A holiday on the beautiful Channel Island of Jersey seems ideal, if only he can persuade Orlando Coppersmith to leave the security of the college and come with him. Orlando is a quiet man who prefers academic life to venturing out into the world. Within the confines of their rooms at the university, it's easy to hide the fact that he and Jonty are far more than friends. But the desire to spend more time alone with the man he loves is an impossible lure to resist. When a brutal murder occurs at the hotel where they're staying, the two young men are once more drawn into the investigation. The race to catch the killer gets complicated by the victim's son, Ainslie, a man who seems to find Orlando too attractive to resist. Can Stewart and Coppersmith keep Ainslie at bay, keep their affair clandestine, and solve the crime?


(That blurb is btw so not what happens in the book but whatever)


This was...nice. Not bad but not great either. The mystery was OK, but one throwaway line made it really easy to figure out parts of it. There was still enough to keep me guessing.

I didn't get at all why it was necessary to have parts of the story told from Mathew's point of view. I'm pretty sure that all the other books from the series, I've read so far, were just written from Orlando's and Jonty's POV and I really don't understand why it was changed here. It added nothing and they were honestly done rather sloppily mid-chapter.


There is a rather widespread trope on cozies that is 'the police have somebody as their main suspect and the amateur sleuths just refuse to believe that this person did it' and I honestly don't think it was executed that well here. I can buy this if the suspect is somebody the main characters have known for a long time but here they only just met him but still Jonty never wavers in his conviction that Mathew didn't do it. Even Orland isn't convinced, but Jonty ignores that. 

I also found Jonty's behaviour questionable in regards to their relationship in general. It was like he was willing to accept that Orlando needed time to get over his past traumas, but Jonty would decide how much time that was. He was pressing him to talk about things at several occasions, including one time that felt more like emotional blackmail. That was even worse because the question he asked then was 'Why did your father kill himself' which really is just morbid curiosity on his part. I get why making Orlando talk about his childhood in general would be helpful, but that? Not so much.

(Also: his 'only penetrative sex is real sex'-views? Ugh)


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review 2015-08-11 16:56
Review: Lessons for Sleeping Dogs
Lessons for Sleeping Dogs - Charlie Cochrane

Especially (cozy) crime series are often written in a way that you can read them in any order. Previous events are rarely referenced and characters aren't changed much by them.

The Cambridge Fellows is not one of them. On the one hand this is a good thing. It gives the characters more depth if they are affected by events from previous books instead of everybody pretending like they never happened. On the other if you read them out of order things can get...messy. There are frequent mentions of things that happened in previous books and some of them (partly) spoil the solutions of the cases. Not all references are to cases, things that happened in the personal lives of the characters also get mentioned.

And repeatedly.

I am not kidding. The fact that Orlando's father committed suicide in front of the whole family has been mentioned more times than I can count and this is only the third book I'm reading. (To be fair: two of them were about deaths that looked like suicides so that would of course bring up memories but it's not the only thing that gets mentioned again and again).
So I ended up alternating between being annoyed because I still intend to read the rest of the series and got spoiled and being annoyed because something I already knew got repeated again.

You, dear reader, will undoubtedly have noticed that I wrote ' I still intend to read the rest of the series' so despite just ranting half a page it can't have been that bad. And no, it wasn't. The repetitions are annoying but I enjoyed the rest a lot.

The sleuths in the book are a gay couple and the book is set in Edwardian times. I read a couple of historical novels featuring gay characters and they can be divided into 'All the gay angst. All the time' (most of them) and 'LOL isn't being gay hilarious?'. And I am not a fan of either of them. Of course you can't ignore that being gay was a crime in many places for a long period of time. But that doesn't mean that all the thoughts of the characters have to revolve around that fact every minute and there has to be an added dose of heavy Catholic gay guilt.
The Cambridge Fellows treads that line very well. Both have accepted their feelings and due to (admittedly very) lucky circumstances don't have to worry about being found out unless they act very foolishly. But there is still talk of how they can't show their affection openly and how they have to be careful in certain situations.

The case itself is decent. I might have more complaints if locked-room mysteries weren't among my favourite crime-tropes and I can happily forgive them some really outlandish solutions because I just like locked-room mysteries a lot.


ARC from NetGalley.

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review 2015-04-16 16:08
Review: Lessons for Suspicious Minds
Lessons for Suspicious Minds - Charlie Cochrane

I struggle to find words to describe this story that aren't 'cute' or 'sweet'. Not in an exaggerated diabetes-inducing way that involved the main-couple telling each other how much they love the other every five pages, simply in the sense of 'this is a sweet story about good, nice and (mostly) happy people'. The case did require a bit of suspension of disbelief but not too much (especially as it is basically a cozy where I don't require as much adherence to reality as in 'serious' crime-novels') .

The characters and their relations with each other are where the book really shines. You can easily feel how much Jonty, Orlando and Jonty's family care about each other and everybody also seems like a really nice person you'd love to meet.


However, I would very much recommend to read this series in order. Having jumped right in the middle I have now been spoiled for several events that happened in the previous books. Not the solutions to any cases but events happening in the development of the personal relationship between the two. Not major things and no exact details but I'd definitely preferred to have learned about them a different way.


I did think the narration overused the phrase 'his lover' a bit (as in 'Jonty looked at his lover'/'Orlando went over to his lover'). I am a big fan of just calling people by their names or simply using pronouns (and yes, if just two men are in the room and it says 'Jonty looked at him' I am mentally capable of decoding that him refers to Orlando and not Jonty...) If it had been done just occasionally and to stress it for some reason I'd have been fine with it but here it threw me off.

I am also not sure about how much like sea-battles as metaphor for sex but it was at least a fascinating experience.


ARC provided by NetGalley

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