When Charlie asks Jennie to investigate two bodies in the cellar of his Oxford university, he also asks her to keep it secret. Keeping it quiet is a crime, and not telling her friend on the police force puts two friendships in jeopardy too.
Charlie seems to have more secrets than a puzzle-box. Jennie starts to suspect his involvement in at least one of the deaths. Is he trying to distract her from the truth by sending her on wild goose chases?
The Jennie Redhead Mysteries are very similar to the Phryne Fisher Mysteries, but Jennie is lot more brash and confrontational. The difference is that the author duo that makes up the Sally Spencer also like to add a little controversy to their stories.
I’m not sure I entirely agree with the way the topic of homosexuality was approached from a historical point of view. In the mid 1940’s it was still considered a criminal offence, so the majority of men kept it a secret, as opposed to being openly gay in society. In 1967 sexual acts between two men over the age of 21 was decriminalised in England and Wales, however it still remained illegal in Scotland, Northern Ireland, the Channel Islands and or the Isle of Man.
Now, whilst there is always room for fictional interpretation and the rewriting of history, I do believe keeping it slightly more historically correct would have given the story a stronger sense of realism, instead of applying the overall laissez-faire feel of the story to this particular topic.
Personally I wish history had been more like the scenario of Dry Bones, in a sense that it is just as normal as heterosexual relationships, which is possibly what the authors were aiming for.
What I really enjoyed was the excellent description of the upper and lower classes, especially in relation to the academic world of Oxford. In the 20th century we saw the deconstruction of these antiquated ways of thinking, although I am sure one could argue that we are still seeing the last remnants of it in the UK government structure and political field. Kudos to the authors for the reality of the Upstairs/Downstairs scenarios and the descriptions of both the Great War and World War 2, which feature heavily in this story. The mistakes made by the entitled upper class officer ranks, and the fates of the lower class bullet fodder.
Overall Spencer delivers a good read with feisty and unusual characters.