Another Review at MyShelf.Com

An Oxford Tragedy
Norman Russell

Robert Hale
31 May 2015/ ISBN 9780719816086

Reviewed by Rachel A Hyde


Sir Montague Fowler, the warden of St Michael’s College in Oxford is on his deathbed. It looks as though he has died from food poisoning, or was it just poisoning of the less accidental sort? Soon rumors are rife about how he met his death and there are plenty of people who are not sorry to see him gone. His three children are all in need of money and have secrets to hide, and in the back-stabbing world of the colleges many wanted his job or at least somebody else in it that would be more amenable to their ideas. Cue DI Antrobus and female doctor Sophia Jex-Blake to investigate.

This is possibly the first in a brand new series for Mr. Russell; I hope so anyway. In his other two series he has written about secret agents, rural detectives and his own variant on the gothic novel. Now he turns his attention to the groves of Academe and has as one of his sleuths a real life pioneer physician. Oxford and its colleges come to life, a realistic picture of a hothouse atmosphere of privilege and jockeying for power, a place with its own rules and standards. I certainly didn’t guess it all and Mr. Russell deftly delivers a taut, page turner of a book with plenty of twists and turns and no parts in need of an editor. As with some of his other books at one point there is a frisson of the supernatural but it does not get in the way of the investigations. This is not a gothic tale but a detective one and should appeal to all fans of historical mysteries. I hope this is the first in a new series for this talented author.

Reviewed 2015