All the news from the house of Cochrane

Hi all. The Cochranes are back from holiday, feeling rested and ready to tackle the diary for the rest of the year. Lots of news to report and give a heads-up about
The big news is that the next Cambridge Fellows novella – Lessons in Keeping a Dangerous Promise – is up for pre-order, release date 6th December. 
Jonty Stewart and Orlando Coppersmith like nothing better than being asked to solve mysteries, but when they get commissioned to help someone fulfil a vow he made to a late comrade in arms, matters start to cut too close to home for both of them.

December will be busy, as I’ll also have a free – rather spooky – age of sail story for you. Don’t forget that the Children in Read auction is open for bidding. I’m offering a personalised, signed print copy of Old Sins
as the Lindenshaw book I offered last year went well. And it’s all for an excellent cause.
Funny to be thinking of new books when The Case of the Grey Assassin is still quite a ‘young’ title – I guess it’s like buses, the books all seem to come at once. I hope Alasdair and Toby don’t take umbrage at not being my only sleuths.

Talking of other detectives, in the next newsletter I should have the finalised cover art for Lock, Stock and Peril, to share with you. It’s the next in the Lindenshaw  series and the cover is up to the standard for the rest of them.

This week’s excerpt has to be from the upcoming Jonty and Orlando story.
The pigeonholes at the porters’ lodge had seen many interesting contents over the years, including incomprehensible essays for the attention of fellows, florid invitations intended for students and the occasional very welcome and intriguing communication. Today was an example of the last.
“A letter from the home of the Broads,” Jonty said, waggling the envelope. “Not the Norfolk Broads, 
Swann, simply my family.”
The porter grinned at the joke, poor as it was. It didn’t take long for an employee of St Bride’s to learn that the fellows’ feeble attempts at humour must be indulged. “I’ve heard tell you’ve a notable family indeed, sir. All of them St Bride’s men.”
“And my sister would have been a St Bride’s woman, had we the foresight to accept the other half of mankind.” Jonty held his finger to his lips. “Don’t go repeating that around the university. Some of the older dons would have hysterics.”
“Our secret, Dr Stewart.”
“You’ll go far, Swann. Let’s see what the woman concerned has to say.”
They took the letter to Orlando’s study, where they could read it in peace.
All soon became apparent. It wasn’t often that a Cambridge fellow might receive a letter beginning, “Hello, trouble,” but not many dons had a sister like Lavinia. Despite being a lady of mature years and a mother of two delightful offspring, she still at times acted as though both she and her brother were no more than children themselves. Usually she would telephone, so a written communication must portend something.
We might have a commission for you and Orlando. I didn’t want to use the telephone to discuss it because George and Alexandra appear to have a supernatural sense of hearing.
“They take after their uncle. Ow!” Orlando rubbed his leg. “That was unfair. It’s my dodgy Achilles side so I can’t move it out of the way as quickly as I might were it the other.”
“You need to get back into practice. No more rude comments or you’ll be getting another slap. Or, worse still, I’ll take the commission on all by myself.”
There’s a fellow called Thomas Harle, the son of one of Ralph’s pals, Henry. I’ve met them both and they seemed nice chaps, although the latter embroiled himself in scandal just before the war, if you recall? Mama’s dental nurse.
“What’s this?” Orlando asked.
“Do you remember Papa getting all agitato about some chap—must have been Henry Harle, although I have a feeling he’s actually Sir Henry—who set up home with a young woman whom he’d met while she was helping tend his teeth? Same dental surgeon as ours.”
“Your father wouldn’t have approved of that at all.”
“Very few people did.”
Orlando frowned. “It’s starting to come back to me. Was this the chap of whom your mother said it would almost have been better if he’d run away with a painted hussy from the music halls, someone the family and society could sneer at?”
“Yes, I believe you’re right. Something about the nurse being a pleasant and intelligent young woman whom it was difficult to dislike. It must surely have been a matter of true love between them or else why would they have cast their reputations upon the rocks?” Jonty shared an understanding glance with Orlando. Their type of men would know, more than others, about the risks involved in such a situation and both understood that no merely trivial liaison, no matter how passionate, would be worth such a sacrifice.
Thomas approached Ralph to ask about you two. Whether you would be trustworthy and men of discretion. In a mad moment, Ralph restrained himself from saying that you were a pair of scapegraces who could lead monkeys astray, instead emphasising your illustrious record of successful cases. I believe it’s all to do with a promise Thomas made a comrade during the war and which he has some concerns about carrying out. More than that he wouldn’t say.
“That sounds intriguing,” Orlando said with relish. “Gratifyingly unlike a murder, too. What would you promise a comrade that you’d need our help with? I suppose there are plenty of possibilities.”


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