Can I just make clear to everyone that I’m not on a retainer with Choc Lit?! It’s just that, every now and then, you find a publisher that matches your tastes so perfectly, it just might look that way! This time, I’m delighted to be sharing my review of One Dark Lie by Clare Chase. You might remember Clare’s previous visits to Being Anne – a guest post for the first in this series You Think You Know Me, and a review and interview for A Stranger’s House. This lovely book is the third in the London & Cambridge Mysteries, published by Choc Lit for kindle on 12 December 2016 under their “Death by Choc Lit” imprint.
The truth can hurt, and sometimes it leads to murder …
After becoming embroiled in a murder investigation, Nate Bastable and Ruby Fawcett have decided to opt for the quiet life. But crime has a habit of following them around.
When her work dries up, Ruby finds herself accepting a job researching and writing about Diana Patrick-John, a colourful and enigmatic Cambridge academic. Simple enough. But then there’s the small fact that Diana was found dead in suspicious circumstances in her home – the very place where Ruby has now been invited to stay.
As she begins to uncover Diana’s secret life, Ruby’s sleuthing instinct kicks in, leaving her open to danger and retribution. But can she rely on Nate to support her? Especially when his behaviour has become increasingly distant and strange, almost as though he had something to hide…
It’s available on all e-book platforms, and here are the links:
When I reviewed A Stranger’s House, I mentioned how much I was looking forward to spending time with Nate and Ruby again – and this book gave me everything I’d hoped for. This book could – very comfortably – be read as a stand-alone, but it was so good to see how the relationship had developed while we weren’t watching.
My only tiny reservation about that “stand-alone” comment is with the storyline (there are distinctly two) that focuses on Nate. I’m not sure, but maybe not knowing the background might lessen its impact and importance – even I found the gangland content a bit confusing. But as a device to show how secrets and lies – even for the best of reasons – can blow apart everything you hold dear, it works just wonderfully. And that sense of impending disaster… quite gripping.
I’ll admit though that I found Ruby’s strand of the story the more personally engaging. It features a gloriously complicated web of relationships, becoming more entangled by the moment, as Ruby investigates the life – and, though not part of her brief, the death – of academic and socialite Diana Patrick-John. The author creates some wonderfully complex characters – Diana’s brother Quentin, their sister Sonia, Quentin’s estranged wife, his daughter Clemmie, museum director Larry, the mysterious young man on the street corner – and allows us to sit on Ruby’s shoulder as she tries to disentangle the threads.
I do remember commenting that the last book in the series was almost “cosy” in its style – this one has harder edges, but I really think it’s better for it. I found the uncovering of Diana’s life quite fascinating – the Cambridge academic world is totally unfamiliar to me, but it’s wonderfully brought to life. And I must also pay due tribute to the way Cambridge itself lives and breathes through the pages of this book – excellent scene-setting against a vividly drawn backdrop. But there are also moments of danger and impending disaster – in both stories – that have you on the edge of your seat, and they’re exceptionally well handled. There’s gentle romance and relationship drama too – and some lovely touches of humour, mainly by seeing things through Ruby’s eyes. Juggling all the different themes, threads and moods really can’t have been easy – but the author makes it seem that way.
I’ll admit that I’m often not the sharpest tool in the box when it comes to uncovering clues and finding the villain – but this book really kept me guessing to the very end, and I really enjoyed the journey. And as for our team, Nate and Ruby – where do they end up? You’ll really need to read the book, won’t you?
With thanks to Clare and tour organiser Brook Cottage Books, I have a really lovely giveaway for you. One lucky reader can win a paperback copy of A Stranger’s House (the first Ruby Fawcett and Nate Bastable Cambridge mystery), a sweet treat from Hotel Chocolat and a Cambridge key ring. Here’s the rafflecopter for entry:
About Clare Chase
Clare Chase writes mysteries set in London and Cambridge featuring crime-solving couples. She fell in love with the capital as a student, living in the rather cushy surroundings of Hampstead in what was then a campus college of London University. (It’s currently being turned into posh flats …)
After graduating in English Literature, she moved to Cambridge and has lived there ever since. She’s fascinated by the city’s contrasts and contradictions, which feed into her writing. She’s worked in diverse settings – from the 800-year-old University to one of the local prisons – and lived everywhere from the house of Lord to a slug-infested flat. The terrace she now occupies presents a good happy medium.
As well as writing, Clare loves family time, art and architecture, cooking, and of course, reading other people’s books.
She lives with her husband and teenage children, and currently works at the Royal Society of Chemistry.