Delighted to say that the tenth (relaunched) adventure for Jonty and Orlando, Lessons for Suspicious Minds, is out today from Riptide.
And here’s what inspired the whole tale:
In the innocent pre-war days, an invitation to stay at the stately country home of a family friend means a new case for amateur sleuths Jonty Stewart and Orlando Coppersmith. In fact, with two apparently unrelated suicides to investigate there, a double chase is on.
But things never run smoothly for the Cambridge fellows. In an era when their love dare not speak its name, the risk of discovery and disgrace is ever present. How, for example, does one explain oneself when discovered by a servant during a midnight run along the corridor?
Things get even rougher for Orlando when the case brings back memories of his father’s suicide and the search for the identity of his grandfather. Worse, when they work out who the murderer is, they are confronted with one of the most difficult moral decisions they’ve ever had to make.
“Are we content, Dr. Coppersmith?” Jonty, warm from the port and just slightly dishevelled from an encounter with the family’s Irish wolfhound, stood in Orlando’s doorway in the guest corridor to say his goodnights. Although, as usual, the loquacious toad couldn’t just say see you tomorrow and have done with it. Not when five hundred words would suffice.
“We are. Two mysteries. What more could a man want?” The man he loved to share his bed with him, obviously, but neither of them would be getting that comfort tonight. They’d managed a bit of room hopping at the Old Manor—where nobody seemed to bat an eyelid—and when they took a two-bedroom suite at a hotel, but neither of them was going to risk a pyjama-clad slink along the corridor at Fyfield.
Maybe Jonty was feeling the same reluctance to part for the night.
“The nature of the cases not worrying you?”
“No!” Orlando avoided Jonty’s gaze but was unable to avoid the disapproving sniff. “Sorry, shouldn’t have been so abrupt. No, I’m fine.” It wasn’t quite true, and he knew that his lover would know it.
Jonty leaned his head against the doorframe, clearly weighing up whether he was being told the truth and how far to pursue it if he wasn’t. Orlando had seen that determined look before.
“As you wish.” Jonty stifled a yawn. “I shall see you in the morning. Breakfast and then interrogating the chambermaids?”
“Something like that. Sleep well.”
“I will. My head will hit the pillow and then it’ll be morning tea time.” Jonty slipped away to his room, leaving Orlando, unmoving, staring at the door. Sleep wasn’t going to be easy to find, with dormant memories of his family, and his father in particular, cruelly awoken more than once today and now dogging his thoughts. He was far too used to having Jonty’s cold feet in the small of his back or his gentle snoring in his ear.
Maybe he could lull himself to sleep by dreaming up a plan of campaign to solve what seemed like two impossible problems.