Hiya guys, we have Charlie Cochrane visiting today with her newest release Lessons for Sleeping Dogs, we have a great guest post, a brilliant excerpt that we ‘borrowed’ and a fantastic giveaway so enjoy the post and leave a comment (with a way to be contacted in the body of the comment box) to enter the giveaway! Good luck <3 ~Pixie~
Lessons for Sleeping Dogs
When amateur sleuth Jonty Stewart comes home with a new case to investigate, his partner Orlando Coppersmith always feels his day has been made. Although, can there be anything to solve in the apparent mercy killing of a disabled man by a doctor who then kills himself, especially when everything takes place in a locked room?
But things are never straightforward where the Cambridge fellows are concerned, so when they discover that more than one person has a motive to kill the dead men—motives linked to another double death—their wits get stretched to the breaking point.
And when the case disinters long buried memories for Jonty, memories about a promise he made and hasn’t kept, their emotions get pulled apart as well. This time, Jonty and Orlando will have to separate fact from fiction—and truth from emotion—to get to the bottom of things.
by Charlie Cochrane
I recently did an article for an upcoming Mystery People e-zine about “The Red House Mystery”, which was AA Milne’s only crime book. In the piece I was talking about how, despite Milne insisting there would be no romance in his book, his two leading men are all over each other and the story is awash with (no doubt unintentional) slash. I also speculated about whether Milne had based Tony, the amateur detective and a character who definitely pings my gaydar, on somebody he’d known, unwittingly depicting a gay man in the process.
Another slashy relationship in Golden Age crime stories is that between Raffles, the amateur cracksman and passionate cricketer and his chum Bunny in the stories by EW Hornung. Raffles is said (by Andrew Lycett) to be based on George Ives, a multi faceted man whose bow strings included criminology and cricket. And he was gay.
Ives played only one first class game, but was a useful contributor to JM Barrie’s amateur cricket team, the Allahakbarries. Amateur didn’t necessarily mean less good back then; it was a matter of not being paid. Many of England’s leading cricketers were “amateur” and thought themselves superior to the hard working “professionals”.
It’s fascinating to look back at those days and see all the interconnections between writers and cricket, and writers themselves. Conan Doyle, Jerome K Jerome and many other all turned out for J M Barrie’s team and many other interesting characters weave in and out of the history of the side. The more I read about the early twentieth century, the more I get the daft feeling that all the authors knew each other over, gathering in one corner (or field!) and all the poets knew each other and gathered in another corner and sometimes the two groups touched on each other. The world seems a very small place, even though I’m sure it wasn’t, and life was very different in many ways, even if humour nature was basically the same.
It’s the details in those days which strike us as odd, whether we’re reading about the era or reading books written then and considering the characters within them. Sherlock Holmes may have been transported successfully to the modern day, but I can’t imagine Joe Root or any other modern cricketer doubling as a jewel thief, or looking quite as beautifully dressed as Raffles did. He definitely comes across as a bit of a dandy, but that wasn’t unusual for the time. The great “Ranji” who played for England, donned silk shirts and was usually turned out like a bandbox. The team photo I’m looking at right now of Barrie’s XI shows some very elegantly clad men, including Ives himself.
Hornung isn’t quite as neatly dressed, but he’s there. He must surely have seen Ives’s clothes, observed his batting, listened to him talk, perhaps closely observed his characteristics. If Hornung depicted his friend Ives just as he observed him, no wonder we all look at Raffles and see the slash!
A screech of brakes outside Orlando’s study window, accompanied by cheerful whistling, suggested that Jonty had returned, and was in a pretty chipper mood with it.
Soon his smiling face appeared round the door. “I’ve brought you a lovely present, but you have to guess what it is.”
“I’m too old for games.” Orlando looked up slowly, trying to make sure his expression didn’t belie his words. The papers neatly piled on his desk caught his eye; he’d been hard at work for too long and needed a rest. He started tidying them out of sight.
“Nobody is too old for games. Come on.” Jonty came round the desk, grabbed Orlando’s arm, and yanked him out of the chair. “You have three guesses.”
“A new set of mathematical tables?” Orlando’s slightly dog-eared copy—too well used and too well loved—also lay on the desk, looking forlorn.
“No, although it seems like that should be your anniversary present. Try again.”
“Another story by Bret Harte?” Orlando sighed, wistfully. “The Stolen Cigar Case” had been one of the best Christmas presents Orlando had ever received.
Jonty shook his head. “Alas, no.”
“Then I give up.”
“You can’t, until you’ve used up all your guesses. I’ll give you a clue. Something which would make you deliriously happy. Happier even than—” Jonty glanced over his shoulder, probably to check he’d closed the door behind him “—than a romp in bed with me.”
“A case? A case!” Orlando rubbed his hands together. “I was beginning to think we’d never get another.”
“Well, you’re wrong on that score. Dr. Sheridan has a cousin, who has a wife, who had a brother who might or might not have been murdered.”
“I think you need to explain that to me all over again, only much more slowly and with more detail. And preferably accompanied by a glass of sherry. I’ll move the chairs into best position for sharing notes.”
“You and chairs.” Jonty grinned and went off to fetch the decanter.
Orlando smiled fondly, his own words of 1905 ringing in his ears. “The particular chair a man inhabits after high table is regarded as sacrosanct.” What a miracle that Jonty had seen behind the pomposity.
Sherry, notepads, pens accumulated, chairs drawn into position either side of a fire that was needed on an unseasonably nippy evening, Jonty began his account. As usual, he presented the conversation apparently verbatim—rather than in a logical order as Orlando would have done. As it was, he tried to note them down a little more carefully than they’d been presented to him.
“Don’t get your hopes up, though.” Jonty scratched his brow. “I can’t help feeling that even if we suspect murder was committed by Robertson or by persons unknown, we’d not be able to prove it. Still, there are plenty of little bits to intrigue us. Like, if Atherton had changed his mind about taking his own life, would he carry on visiting Dr. Robertson?”
“And why did he let himself be locked up in the same room as the man? Unless he was oblivious to the doctor’s motive to kill him.” Orlando shook his head. “We’ll have to establish whether he might have called for help.”
Jonty slapped his thighs. “This has all the makings of an unsolvable puzzle. Although I suppose you’ll relish the challenge of that.”
“The challenge, yes. And I’d be happy to satisfy us that we’ve got to the truth, even if we can’t write QED at the bottom of the solution.” Orlando smiled. “So. Mrs. Blackett first?”
“Yes, with a side dish of Wilshire while we’re there. Before our party split up, I arranged with her husband for us to visit them this weekend. They’ve got a place just outside Guildford, and I hope we can drop in to see Dr. Robertson’s housekeeper on the way home.”
“Excellent plan. Where is she located?”
“Where she was at the time, apparently. In his old house.” Jonty consulted his notes. “It seems the house was left to Robertson’s brother, who is letting it out to another physician. He took Mrs. McGinley on with the property.”
“That’s useful. Maybe we can get a peek at the consulting room itself.” Not that any evidence would remain, but maybe they’d get inspired by the feel of the place. At any rate Jonty would be inspired by that aspect, and he could look at the layout and see if that locked room was an impenetrable as it was supposed to be.
Orlando jolted out of thoughts of secret passages and false doors. “I beg your pardon?”
“Cui bono. Who benefits?” Jonty tipped his head to one side, an indication that he was thinking. “Why would somebody want to kill Edward Atherton? Or Dr. Robertson, assuming it wasn’t him who did the deed? Would covering up a secret or putting off a blackmailer be enough?”
“You’re putting together some daft theory. I can see it in your eyes. Would you care to elucidate?”
“I was just thinking about inheritances. Who did they leave their money to? If Edward left his to Robertson, the order of death would be vitally important. We’ve a lot to consider.” Jonty smiled gleefully.
“And you’re running before you can walk. Patience.”
Jonty snorted. “That’s rich, coming from you!” He left his chair, put another log on the fire, and turned on another light. “Would you really like a Bret Harte? I’m not sure if he’s done any others in the same vein.”
“If he hasn’t, it’s a shame. Was it an inspired present or a lucky guess?”
“Inspired, naturally!” Jonty took his place again. “I knew you’d like it. No guessing necessary. How could a pastiche of Conan Doyle fail? Even I enjoyed it and I like Sherlock Holmes.”
“It was the best present I’ve ever had, I think. Even better than the Woodville Ward case.” At first he thought he’d hate the book, just as he hated Holmes, but Harte’s sly sense of humour—if such deliberate pastiche could be called sly—and his depiction of a thinly veiled Watson slobberingly obsessed with an even more thinly veiled Holmes had made him laugh aloud.
The (presumably) inadvertent use of terms such as “penetration” had added to the humour, especially when Jonty had read the story out loud in the garden one balmy evening this past summer, putting his usual emphasis on certain words. Orlando had felt forced to drag the man inside before he scandalised the neighbours. They might not exactly be love’s young dream, but a man couldn’t help feeling desires, could he?
They’d discussed before whether the original Holmes and Watson’s relationship had carried anything romantic in it, even if that romance were entirely platonic. Unlike Orlando and Jonty, who hadn’t lost their passion in their forties, Holmes had never seemed to possess the inclination towards physical passion in the first place. His affection for Watson, however, appeared—in Orlando’s opinion—to be the thing that sustained him. Maybe Harte had pondered the same thing?
“Shall I read it for you this evening?” Jonty had the sort of mischievous glint in his eye that filled Orlando with a mixture of qualms and amorous thoughts. Which would eventually prevail usually depended on how public their situation was and how much mischief was in the offing. That said, Jonty could have found capacity for mischief on a quiet Monday in a Trappist monastery.
“Hmm. It depends on how well you behave yourself in the meantime. Be useful. Find the steps which would lead to the solution for this intriguing mystery, or something. If mystery it is, I hasten to add, and not exactly what it seems to be on the surface.”
“If it turns out to be that, we can as a minimum eliminate the lady’s doubts. That itself is a solution worth reaching.”
“It is.” Orlando nodded, but he wasn’t sure he agreed. Where was the challenge in proving what had already been proved? “Maybe it’ll turn out to be suitably tortuous.”
“Perhaps.” Jonty crinkled his brow.
“Penny for your thoughts?”
“Not worth a farthing. Something buzzing around the old bonce, as usual, but I can’t pin it down.”
“Something you’ve done you’d like to confess?” Orlando grinned.
“Lots and not particularly, only that’s not it.” Jonty returned the smile but he still looked troubled. “Something I’ve left undone, I think. But I’ve no idea what.”
For more excerpt click here: http://riptidepublishing.com/titles/lessons-for-sleeping-dogs (Just click the excerpt tab)
As Charlie Cochrane couldn’t be trusted to do any of her jobs of choice—like managing a rugby team—she writes, with titles published by Carina, Samhain, Bold Strokes, MLR and Cheyenne.
Charlie’s Cambridge Fellows Series of Edwardian romantic mysteries was instrumental in her being named Author of the Year 2009 by the review site Speak Its Name. She’s a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association, Mystery People, International Thriller Writers Inc and is on the organising team for UK Meet for readers/writers of GLBT fiction. She regularly appears with The Deadly Dames.
Connect with Charlie:
- Website: Charlie Cochrane
- Blog: livejournal.com/
- Twitter: @charliecochrane
- Facebook profile page: Facebook
- Goodreads: Goodreads