Cherringham – A Cosy Crime Series Books 14 to 16 by Matthew Costello & Neil Richards

Combe CastleTo 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.

There’s a nice variety of tales here, nice quick reads. None of the mysteries are really fair play ones, but I don’t think I’m quite the target audience here. People who want a quick easy read (and why not) are the targets here and they’ll probably find a lot to enjoy.

A fair amount of events are crammed into the tales. The Secret Of Combe Castle is rather refreshing, as it doesn’t feature a murder at all, but there’s an inevitability about the solution, although there’s some clever misdirection that might distract the reader – and it’s not, as I first thought, cheating, btw. But I had to re-read part of it to make sure. A Fatal Fall is a little more prosaic, with a fair flat denouement. The Last Puzzle is a great improvement, a tale of ex-spies and ridiculous wills (a staple of crime fiction). Just don’t stop to ask why some of the suspects were part of the competition in the first place…

The main gripe that I have is the fact that the writers tend to get some bits wrong about life in England. Calling the local supermarket Costco stands out as odd as UK readers know that Costco is a massive bulk supplier, rather than a village shop. The third book gets the opening date of GCHQ very wrong – if Jack interviewed pre-GCHQ spies in New York, then he’s about ninety years old.

I think the tales are a little too straightforward for my personal liking, but readers of lighter detective fiction, such as MC Beaton, will enjoy these. They have very good ratings on Amazon and the target audience seem to lap them up.


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