He thought he knew who he was. Now he’s a stranger to himself.
Cambridge Fellows Mysteries, Book 7
When Jonty Stewart and Orlando Coppersmith witness the suspicious death of a young man at the White City exhibition in London, they’re keen to investigate—especially after the cause of death proves to be murder. But police Inspector Redknapp refuses to let them help, even after they stumble onto clues to the dead man’s identity.
Orlando’s own identity becomes the subject for speculation when, while mourning the death of his beloved grandmother, he learns that she kept secrets about her past. Desperate to discover the truth about his family, Orlando departs suddenly on a solo quest to track down his roots, leaving Jonty distraught.
While Jonty frantically tries to locate his lover, Orlando wonders if he’ll be able to find his real family before he goes mad. After uncovering more leads to the White City case, they must decide whether to risk further involvement. Because if either of them dares try to solve the murder, Inspector Redknapp could expose their illicit—and illegal—love affair.
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Ahh how I do love those Cambridge dons. Book 7 in the series, Lessons in Trust, actually steps back up from the slightly lackluster performance of book 6. Perhaps I was the only one that felt the last book didn’t have the same spark and sizzle as others but even so there are few if any complaints about this new offering. The latest book returns with witty dialogue, heartfelt emotion, and an interesting set of mysteries. The familiar style of writing is once again in top form here with the languid pace and enjoyable, easy narrative. If anything I read this offering even faster than others and really frankly enjoyed the story thoroughly. Fans of the series will be very pleased at the newest addition.
The story picks up with Jonty and Orlando in London viewing the White City exhibition. As usual the two men are of different minds about the mechanical wonders and Jonty’s delight in teasing Orlando is offset by Orlando’s yearning for detective work. When a murder falls into their laps, Orlando leaps with glee before thinking of the potential consequences. Complicating matters is a shocking revelation once Orlando’s grandmother has died, sending him on a complicated search to discover his family’s past. Although the two men have been together for years and pledged their love, trust and sharing burdens doesn’t come easily.
The plot this time mixes two mysteries – Orlando’s search for family and the dead man in the exhibition. The two don’t connect very much but both remain interesting and help direct the story. Orlando’s search is more emotional and shows his fears, flaws, and need for identity; while the dead man mystery keeps the pace quick and interesting alongside. The second mystery really works for me due to all the small details. Part of this is the man’s name, Halfpenny, which makes me smile every time I read it. The resulting details of his life and death are just well crafted and remain interesting from start to finish. There are some clues to figure out the resolution early but the telling is just as much fun to read.
Orlando’s search for his identity is touching and shows he’s both foolish and endearing. His need to stand on his own shows a crack in his armor that I hadn’t realized he felt. His internal musings are heart felt and even though he does some stupid things like running off without Jonty, his reasoning is understandable even if not agreeable. The resolution to Orlando’s search opens up possibilities for future interactions and definitely peaked my interest. Just as the glimpses at favorite characters helped round out a story that has more supporting character participation than usual.
Although I prefer Jonty and Orlando detecting together, their separation in this offering made sense and deepened their relationship. Orlando’s insecurities are not likely to disappear overnight and they’re still somewhat new in discovering everything even after a few years together. The ease of their interactions and the connotation of being each other’s best friends first and lovers second set the lovely tone for their romance, one that is fabulous from book to book. There is no explicit sex but the euphemisms and allusions are still creative and interesting even after seven books.
While each book may technically be read alone and readers can easily do so, the entire series builds subtly on itself and thus best read in order. I’m impressed the series has remained interesting and innovative seven books in, covering the beginning few years. I’m not sure how much longer the series will run but so far, the ride with Jonty and Orlando is delightful.
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