The Cherringham Mystery Novels (Book #1)
“On the night of the school prom, a young teacher is found dead in the Thames in a drug-related accident. It seems – at first – to be another sign that Cherringham High is spiralling out of control. The new head however is convinced that the teacher’s death is suspicious and quietly calls in Sarah Edwards.
With her one-time detective partner, Jack Brennan, back in America, Sarah is at first reluctant to take on the case. But when she does get involved, it soon becomes clear that the tragic accident might really be a case of murder – and even Sarah herself could be in danger …
“Dead in the Water” is the first full-length novel set in the sleepy English village of Cherringham, featuring the unlikely sleuthing duo Sarah, an English web designer, and Jack, American ex-cop. Thrilling and deadly – but with a spot of tea – it’s like Rosamunde Pilcher meets Inspector Barnaby.”
Now some of you may be wondering whether you’ve arrived at the right blog. Damppebbles and cosy mysteries…?! Surely not! Regular visitors will know that I am a fan of blood, guts and gore, and lots of it. So to find me reviewing a cosy mystery may come as a surprise. I think those of us that stick mainly to the one genre (in my case, crime and thriller) should explore as many of the sub-genres within as possible. I’ve mentioned before how, every so often, I like to read historical crime novels as a treat. Well, from now on, I’m going to treat myself to the odd cosy mystery too as I very much enjoyed the adventures of Sarah and Jack.
The end of the school year is a time for celebration. A prom maybe? Followed by a rather loud and lively night in the local pub, present are a mix of teachers and senior students. All making the most of the time they have together. But for one teacher, that time is shorter than he thinks. Full of drink and drugs, Josh Owen’s body is found later that night following a tumble from Cherringham’s idyllic stone bridge, into the freezing Thames. Was it an accident? Did Josh commit suicide? Or was it something more sinister? Amateur sleuth, Sarah Edwards, a local web designer with a history of solving difficult criminal cases with her ex-cop partner, Jack Brennan, is called in to investigate. But Sarah is on her own this time. Jack returned to the US a year ago and Sarah hasn’t heard from him recently. Can she use her detective skills to work out what happened to Josh? Is the school’s drug problem bigger than she originally thought? Has Sarah managed to get herself in too deep…?
I’ll openly admit to being a huge fan of the TV show Midsomer Murders. I cried a little when John Nettles left but soon fell completely in love with Neil Dudgeon’s Barnaby. Being such a fan of the series, I have tried to read Caroline Graham’s original novels but strangely, I didn’t really enjoy them as much as I expected. Midsomer Murders is one series (and please forgive me for saying this booky people) where the tv adaptation, in my eyes, is far superior. Anyway, get to the point Emma! The point being, that you cannot move for comparisons between Midsomer and Cherringham on the web. But Cherringham stands alone (and stands strong!) and I really enjoyed it. What I’m trying to say in a very round-about way is that this book (or rather this series) feels like the perfect read for fans of that cosy style of village crime series. And having read Dead in the Water I would always recommend Cherringham above others.
For those not familiar with the series, co-authors Matthew Costello and Neil Richards have written 24 short eBook novellas featuring Sarah Edwards and Jack Brennan. Dead in the Water is their first full length novel and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I’m adding all 24 eBooks to my wishlist as there was something so wonderfully endearing and engaging about these characters that I need to read more. The plot wasn’t the usual thrill a minute I crave in my other reads but it was very well written and to be honest, I went in expecting a cosy mystery and that was what I got…I just enjoyed it more than I expected too!
I enjoyed the plot; the search for what really happened to Josh Owens and the sub plot of the drugs epidemic at the local school. I did realise fairly early on ‘whodunit’ with regards to Josh’s demise but that certainly didn’t spoil my enjoyment of the rest of the novel as I was caught up in the hunt for the drugs lord.
Would I recommend this book? I would! It has a wonderful gentleness about it that I know will appeal to many people. If you don’t normally read crime but would like to start, this would be a good series to start with. Very enjoyable, wonderful characters with lots of heart and a beautiful Cotswold setting (just down the road from me!).
Four out of five stars.
I chose to read and review an ARC of Dead in the Water. Many thanks to Sophie Goodfellow at edpr.
Co-authors Neil Richards (based in the UK) and Matthew Costello (based in the US) have been writing together since the mid 90’s, creating content and working on projects for the BBC, Disney Channel, Sony, ABC, Eidos and Nintendo to name but a few. Their transatlantic collaboration has underpinned scores of TV drama scripts, computer games, radio shows, and – most recently – the successful crime fiction series Cherringham. After 24 novellas, Cherringham is popular around the world, and has been adapted into a series of audiobooks read by Neil Dudgeon, of Midsomer Murder fame.