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Thursday, 3 May 2018

‘Lessons in Chasing the Wild Goose’ by Charlie Cochrane

Independently Published.
ISBN: 978-1980564942 (PB)
Published by The Right Chair Press,
19 March 2018.
ASIN: B0791HH4VB (eBook)

It is 1922 and Jonty Stewart and Orlando Coppersmith have settled back into their lives at St. Bride’s college. Autumn in Cambridge is beautiful and the scars of the Great War and the influenza pandemic that followed it have started to heal, although memories and bereavement can still cause acute pain.

Jonty and Orlando have become well known as investigators and when Dr Beattie, a lecturer at another Cambridge college, asks for their help they are delighted. Life is very dull when they do not have a case. However, Orlando is rather embarrassed because he had been attracted to Beattie in the bitter days just after the war, when he had believed that Jonty was dead. Although Orlando had never expressed his attraction to Beattie and had no idea whether his tentative feelings were reciprocated, he still finds the idea of a meeting with Beattie, especially with Jonty present, extremely difficult.

However, when Beattie arrives at Jonty’s room in St Bride’s any embarrassment is buried under concern. Beattie has been attacked by two men and only escaped serious injury by the chance arrival of some undergraduates. Beattie wants their help because a friend of his from the war has been run down and killed by a motor car and the driver did not stop. Charles Rainsford and Beattie had been close friends while they were serving in the Manchester Regiment and stayed in contact afterwards. As proof of this friendship, Beattie had stood as godfather to Rainsford’s son. The car that struck Rainsford had been located and it had been established that had been stolen prior to the accident. The authorities accepted that this was an unfortunate accident and the driver was probably some wild youth who had lost control of the vehicle. However, Rainsford’s wife is sure that her husband was murdered, although she cannot suggest who could have done this or why, as Rainsford had no enemies and nobody gained from his death, apart from the life insurance policy that she can claim.

Orlando and Jonty agree to investigate Rainsford’s death, although they are aware that it could be a wild goose chase. It seems unlikely that anybody would want to kill a decent, hard-working man who was devoted to his wife and family. But then, who could have a reason for attacking Beattie, also a good man and with no known enemies?

Jonty and Orlando interview Rainsford’s widow and two officers that served with him and Beattie in the war. However they allocate the task of talking to the owner of the stolen car that killed Rainsford to Jonty’s sister, Lavinia, who, since their mother’s death, has stepped into her shoes and helps with their investigations. At first it seems that Rainsford is the honourable man that Beattie had told them about, but then other evidence indicates that he had a second, very different life. Soon it becomes clear that somebody is trying to frighten them into abandoning their investigation.

Lessons in Chasing the Wild Goose is a delightful novel, showing Jonty and Orlando matured by time and war but still as charming and affectionate as ever. The characterisation is excellent, and the central characters are all engaging. The author has built a whole community around Jonty and Orlando and their family and friends, and Swann, the new St Bride’s porter is a worthy addition. The plot is neat, with subtly laid clues and some little-known aspects of life in the great War. Even though this novella follows many novels featuring Jonty and Orlando, the author reveals the relationships and biographical details with great skill, without getting bogged down in too much detail. Lessons in Chasing the Wild Goose is a very enjoyable novella, which I thoroughly recommend.
Reviewer: Carol Westron 

Charlie Cochrane couldn't be trusted to do any of her jobs of choice—like managing a rugby team— so she writes. Her favourite genre is gay fiction, predominantly historical romances/mysteries.  A member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association, and International Thriller Writers Inc, Charlie's Cambridge Fellows Series, set in Edwardian England, was instrumental in her being named Author of the Year 2009 by the review site Speak Its Name.

Carol Westron is a successful short story writer and a Creative Writing teacher.  She is the moderator for the cosy/historical crime panel,
The Deadly Dames. 
Her crime novels are set both in contemporary and Victorian times. 
The Terminal Velocity of Cats the first in her Scene of Crimes novels, was published July 2013. Carol recently gave an interview to Mystery People. To read the interview click on the link below.

To read a review of Carol latest book Strangers and Angels click on the title.

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