Author: Jim Austen
Genre: Mash up, Historical, Mystery
Length: Novel (204pgs)
Publisher: Flying Heron Press (February 19, 2019)
Heat Level: Moderate
Heart Rating: 💖💖💖💖 4 Hearts
Blurb: They have eyes for each other. But someone is eyeing them for murder.
In the Junior students’ dormitory at Oakschott Hall, a heavy gaslight falls from the ceiling, crushing the head of a student sleeping beneath it. Was it simply a tragic accident? To avoid publicity, the Headmaster asks Colin Revell, a young Oxford University graduate and former Oakschott student, to quietly investigate.
While interviewing the faculty and staff, Colin meets Max Lambourne, a handsome don who was wounded and gassed in WWI. When Colin tries to help Max overcome his trauma and depression, the two men fall in love and begin an erotic affair.
But when another student dies—diving at night into an empty swimming pool—murder is suspected. Students and faculty all come under suspicion, and rumors proliferate when Scotland Yard intervenes. Meanwhile, during all this confusion and wild theories, the murderer sees Colin and Max as threats. Unbeknownst to the two lovers, their lives are now in danger.
Review: This story is a mash-up of Murder at School by James Hilton, so uses much of that story’s plotline and its characters. The gay romance element was added by Jim Austen.
So when I first started reading this I didn’t know it was a mash-up, I only found out about half-way through and being honest it didn’t make a difference to me.
Colin comes across as a bit sex mad, most thoughts seem to linger on sexual feelings, reminiscing, and fantasising… it was a bit off putting until he met Max and then his sexual thoughts petered off a bit. Another thing is that after the first couple of pages my mind seemed to want to read the book in a droll tone, and I can safely say that that was also Colin’s influence because he just seemed to be soooooo droll about everything until he gets his teeth in the mystery and thankfully my mind also jumped on board to drop the drollness. Okay enough about that lets move on.
Colin (for some reason) gets a note from the headmaster at Oakshott Hall, where he was once a pupil, asking him to investigate a mysterious death, but while he’s investigating the headmaster suddenly changes his tune but not before Colin meets the lovely Max. Colin heads home regretting not getting to know Max better, but Colin soon has another chance with Max when another death occurs at Oakshott Hall, the first dead boys’ brother. And so the true mystery begins.
Now I did enjoy this story but I did feel like throwing my kindle at times because of how dense everyone seem to be concerning the culprit, it was just so incredible that everyone believed the culprits innocent act. And the twist… very well played out.
Colin’s relationship with Max was a sweet little thing, very intense and passionate for both of them. I can’t say much about how well suited they are because we don’t really get to know Max that well. But the author did well to get their relationship off the ground considering it’s a mash-up and the characters we’re both straight men in the original story.
So the story is enjoyable and interesting, the outcome was exciting, and the characters are interesting. If you love historical mysteries, men finding love, and a surprising twist then you’ll enjoy this story.