1919, London. Thomas Beresford, a recently demobbed soldier and Prudence “Tuppence” Cowley meet up for the first time again in three years. They’re both broke and rather bored, so they decide to set up “The Young Adventurers, Ltd”. Before you can say “sounds like an Enid Blyton book, they have a case – a case that could topple the government of the United Kingdom.
Jane Finn was aboard the Lusitania when it sank in 1915. She survived, carrying a secret treaty that was written to end the war early, a treaty whose contents could, when revealed, aid in the toppling of the government – the goal of the elusive “Mr Brown”. When first Tommy and then Tuppence fall into the hands of the enemy, can the plucky young things escape and put the world to rights?
Anna Hopley suffered a life-changing – well, closer to a life-ruining – trauma when she lost her entire family. Those past horrors have made her an isolated individual, with only her rescue dog, Bonnie, a White Shepherd, to keep her company. But one day, she finds her life colliding with two other dog owners, the older Isadora and the younger Tansy – neither of them have much in common except for one thing. They were together when they found a dead body in the park – the body of a young woman, Naomi, who Anna had been working with.
The crime is ascribed to the so-called “Oxford Ripper” but Anna is not convinced. Naomi was researching a number of issues – the life of a recently republished poet, the original owner of Bonnie and more besides. Could one of this have caused her death? With the police seemingly satisfied the case is closed, Anna and “the dog-walking Charlie’s Angels” find themselves on the trail of a clever – and ruthless – murderer.
Dr Lancelot Priestly (had to look the Lancelot bit up – the second book in a row to dispense with a character’s forename) has lost touch with his old friend Sir John Claverton when he receives an dinner invitation. Claverton has health problems and a will with some labyrinthine “only in a detective book” conditions, so when Priestly is told about a possible attempted arsenic poisoning, it’s no surprise when a week later, Sir John does die.
Convinced his friend has been murdered, Priestly’s convictions are thrown when the autopsy shows no trace of poison in the body at all. With no evidence of murder, all Priestly has left is his belief that something is wrong about the situation. Was Claverton murdered? And if so, how?
Two years ago, on Midsummer’s Day, on the banks of Loch Lomond, a young girl died – presumably by accident. The following year, as the families re-unite, the three boys head out in a canoe to an island with one Warren McAvoy. Only one returns – McAvoy killed the other two and then vanished without trace. Until almost exactly one year later…
Five days before Midsummer’s Day, DCI Anderson’s investigation of the murder of an old woman, burned to death inside her own home, is interrupted by the discovery of another body. McAvoy has been found at last – but the person who found him tied his arms to a pair of horses and… well, let’s say the horses are made to run in opposite directions and I’ll leave the rest to the imagination.
As Midsummer’s Day approaches, the death toll begins to mount. Someone is out for revenge – but against who?
To explain a little. The Cherringham series is an odd beast, namely a monthly episode/novella published every month, featuring Jack Brennan, a widowed ex-NYPD detective now living on a canal boat in the Cotswolds and Sarah Edwards, single mother of two. Together, they have an enquiry agency and get called on to investigate local occurrences/crimes. You can read my review of Book 13 (or Series 2, Book 1) here, and I was asked to take a look at the next three episodes.
Here, our heroes investigate sabotage at a local stately home, a case of murder on a building site and a mysterious will that pits the claimants against each other.
Owen Burns and his friend Achilles Stock are having a late night drink in Burns’ rooms. He is taking the opportunity to rue that nothing interesting is happening at the moment, the sure sign that the detective is about to embark on one of his most interesting cases. Sure enough, Ralph Tierney, an old school friend, arrives with a bizarre tale.
He lost his way in the fog and was lured into Kraken Street, not much more than a narrow alley, by a strange individual. He is then directed, by two more individuals, into a house where he sees a most peculiar vision. He flees from the house and the street itself, but, on regaining his senses, returns to the area only to find that Kraken Street has seemingly vanished completely.
Other people have also visited this house in this non-existent street – the visions seems to be either of the past or the future. But when the visions start to come true, it seems that there is a hand directing these bizarre events – or possibly the street truly is a Phantom Passage…
In 1669, a man was arrested and housed in a number of jails, including the Bastille. He was in the custody of the same jailer until the prisoner’s death in 1703. He was rarely seen but when he was, he always wore a mask – sometimes made of velvet, sometimes made of iron. And so the stories began…
Ralph Croft is an English rogue whose crimes have caught up with him. Facing execution in the Bastille, he is given a reprieve by the Regent – provided he works with the archivist Maurepas and the musketeer D’Estrivet to find the truth about the now-dead Man In The Iron Mask. But everyone has their own reason for seeking the truth – is it possible that the identity of the prisoner could overthrow the French royal family? And if Ralph finds the truth, can he survive the repercussions?