I love stumbling upon new mystery writers that make me excited to see what clever ideas they will come up with next. Charlot King, author of the new-ish Cambridge Mystery series, is just such an author.
One of the unique aspects of King’s storytelling is that she writes in present tense. It can be a little strange to get used to initially, but then it reads like a television script or play and it is easy to imagine exactly what the characters are doing at that moment. Use of this technique is not surprising as one of King’s previous jobs was as a script editor for BBC Drama.
King also surprises the reader right away in her prologues. She plunks you down right into the mind and body of the victim as he is dying. At first I was confused and a little disconcerted but once I picked up on what was happening I loved how immersive and clever it was.
King paints such a vivid picture of Cambridge life both in the town itself and its academic world. It feels like you are walking right along the street with her detective-protagonist Professor Elizabeth Green. When I read Poison, it didn’t read at all like a first novel introducing a brand new detective. The first few chapters make you feel as if you have known Green for a long time and you are stopping by to see what she is up to.
Amateur detective Professor Elizabeth Green discovers a dying junior lecturer on the river that runs along her backyard. Green quickly inserts herself into the investigation despite Inspector Abley’s protestations. As an expert in different types of poisons, Elizabeth can see there is more to this death than drowning.
Engaging her lazy but affable grandson as her assistant, Elizabeth keeps Inspector Abley on his toes and off the golf course in order to solve thecase before more victims wash up on the shore.
Who knew being a porter at an historical institution like All Saints’ College Cambridge could be so deadly? Someone is leaving the porters threatening notes, pulling nasty pranks and casting spells on the seemingly innocent porter population.
Professor Elizabeth Green and her lovesick grandson Godric lend a hand since Inspector Abley has personal problems of his own. Not only does she have Abley and the case to worry about, but she has been nominated for the Master position in her own college.
With Elizabeth’s responsibilities growing by the minute, how long it will take her to get Abley back on the case? Will all of Elizabeth’s sleuthing affect her chances at becoming Master of her own college? Tourist season may be keeping All Saints’ busy, but so is murder.
If you like your mysteries to have a traditional English setting, clever puzzles and a smart amateur sleuth you should give the Cambridge Murder Mystery series a try.