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Friday 11 August 2023

‘The Deadliest Fall’ by Charlie Cochrane

Published by Riptide Publishing,
30 May 2023.
ISBN: 978-1-62649981-2 (PB)

It is 1947 and the Second World War has ended but, for many people, the grief, pain and trauma still lingers. Leslie Cadmore survived the war physically unharmed but he is still suffering from emotional scars. There are several cumulative griefs weighing Leslie down: his beloved dog died, his father made an unexplained decision to abandon his wife and son and enter a monastery, which left both of them feeling abandoned, and, intertwined with this, Leslie had a quarrel with his lover and best friend, Patrick, and since the day they walked away from each other at Waterloo Station, they have remained estranged.

Before the war, Leslie and Patrick were part of a hedonistic group of friends who called themselves the Retainers, although they had not indulged in the promiscuity that was habitual to most of the group because they remained faithful to each other. Several of the Retainers died during the war and the survivors have taken very different paths, including one ambitious young man who is determined to whitewash his past and pursue a career in politics.

A chance meeting with Patrick’s twin sister results in her taking tea with Leslie and his mother and the conversation includes the subject of the death of Fergus Jackson, a lead member of the Retainers and a predatory and manipulative rake. Fergus died during the war when he fell on his own knife during a training accident and Patrick had been one of the people who was present, in an official capacity, during the training exercise. Although none of them liked Fergus, Leslie’s mother is fascinated by the prospect of playing at armchair detective and discovering the truth about his death and her interest engages Leslie, who also becomes intrigued by the mystery. After this tea party, Patrick’s sister decides that it is time Leslie and her brother reconciled their differences and she contrives that they should meet. Although they are cautious at first, soon they move back towards their old loving relationship, although Leslie is still haunted by the fear that Patrick may have been involved in Fergus’ death.

With Patrick’s help, Leslie begins to untangle the mysteries that are twisting his emotions, notably understanding the reason for his father’s decision to enter a monastery, which he hopes will bring both him and his mother closure. They also continue investigating the truth behind Fergus ‘ death, probing the secrets of the remaining Retainers and unearthing things that they had never suspected about a group of men, who, like Leslie and Patrick themselves, have to keep their sexual preferences concealed because homosexuality was illegal.

The Deadliest Fall is a cleverly constructed book that has two separate strands of investigation, which are linked in subtle ways. Leslie and Patrick are engaging protagonists, as is the delightful Mrs Cadmore, Leslie’s mother, who has so much more insight and tolerance than Leslie anticipates. This is an interesting read, involving a time when attitudes to homosexual relationships was very different to the present and which highlights a time when the euphoria of victory is swallowed up in the depression of shortages and loss and the secrets that linger after the war.
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 author and a Creative Writing teacher.  Her crime novels are set both in contemporary and Victorian times.  Her first book The Terminal Velocity of Cats was published in 2013. Since then, she has since written 6 further mysteries. 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 click on the title

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