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Jury of One (Lindenshaw Mysteries) Paperback – November 8, 2015
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Kirkus Reviews -- "A writer of both mysteries and romances, Cochrane . . . strikes a fine balance between the two in story of professional meets personal."
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The Lindenshaw Mysteries series, of which Jury of One is book 2, isn’t her first foray into modern period fiction, but Jury certainly offers confirmation that her deft touch remains when writing contemporary fiction. Decidedly down the class scale from aristocratic Jonty and his beloved Orlando in Cambridge Fellows are school teacher Adam Matthews and police inspector Robin Bright. The village setting is comfortably “cozy mystery” but thankfully never becomes saccharine.
And neither do Adam and Robin. In this book, we get two mysteries and we tumble firmly into the second that has been hovering in the background of the first because Adam and Robin have a fight, as in a real fight in which they behave foolishly, not some clever fight meant to show how successfully snarky they can be. Although as other reviewers have noted, the sexual aspects of their relationship are kept rather circumspect. I like sex as much as the next guy (or gal) and if it reveals something important about character or plot, show it as explicitly as is needed. But honestly, I can get rather tired of fanciful but repetitive body part descriptions, so Cochrane’s choices here didn’t bother me.
In Best Corpse for the Job (book 1 in the series), Cochrane settled the reader into Adam’s world of education-speak jargon and school politics at what, frankly, seems like only at best a middling quality school. It was also where Robin was bullied as a student. Cozy mystery village notwithstanding, this is the real world. For Jury of One we are firmly in Robin’s police world, with a dish of trendy restaurants followed by the stink of corruption. There is never any question that they are the good guys—these are no noir anti-heroes—but there are certainly sordid happenings in their world.
Cochrane has written that she lets her characters take her where they may, but don’t let that fool you. The plots are well constructed. Moreover, these books are well written.
It’s hard for me to judge completely whether you could read Jury of One as a stand-alone since I read Best Corpse first. If you’re inclined, I’d probably start with Best Corpse but I don’t think you’ll be badly stranded if you just go right ahead with Jury of One.
Jury of One is well worth your time.
Adam Matthews and Robin Bright are back with more trouble in their newly-domestic life together. Adam is looking forward to a career change, and Robin’s own prospects are looking ever rosier. Their life together in Adam’s neat little house in Lindenshaw is marred only by the fact that Robin still hasn’t rented out his own place, leaving Adam wondering at moments if he really means to stay.
Then another local murder crops up, which begins to look like it’s linked with a serial attacker in the neighboring town of Abbottston. Suddenly Adam and Robin’s cozy evenings with their dog Campbell are interrupted, and the stress of being a cop in a relationship begins to strain the weak spots in their domesticity.
Once more, the Miss Marple-like aspect of life in small-town England is called into play with good effect. I very much liked the way Cochrane mixes the details of a semi-rural police procedural with the natural anxieties of a young gay couple at the moment the honeymoon ends and the realities of long-term life together begin to loom before them. What is lacking, if I may complain mildly (as Miss Marple would), is that, absent the sexual and professional tension that drove “The Best Corpse for the Job,” it is harder to maintain interest in Adam and Robin as a couple. Cochrane has to resort to a bit of reaching, and I’m afraid the result is that both Adam and Robin take turns looking like idiots just to move the plot along. As a reader, I was not fully convinced that they would actually behave that way, and thus it felt rather forced.
On the other hand, the mystery itself is nicely convoluted to the point that I stopped trying to keep track, and Cochrane managed to ramp up the excitement in the last part of the story to a most satisfying degree. I think taking our boys to a third mystery together will be a challenge. I hope Charlie’s up to it, because I like Adam and Robin and want to see more of them in future
One of my observations was: "Everyone seems quite proper for their roles...but there are so many interrelated subplots that I tended to get a bit lost. I will admit, however, that the identity and motive of the killer was well hidden and is why this went from three to four stars." Ditto here.
I also noted: "I almost deducted that star because I found the romance between Robin the detective and Adam the teacher to be much too circumspect despite the obvious fact that they are clearly gobsmacked with each other." Ditto here , although there is more of a hotspur in Adam than one expected, but Robin seems to be in a constant state of exhaustion and distraction. Bummer.
I ended the review with "The cure, however, would be a sequel." Well, ditto again.
The first one was mostly about Adam, this one mostly about Robin, their personalities, perspectives, and comrades. This one has some very nasty work running through the sub-plots and sub-characters, and some totally unexpected outbursts from poor sweet Adam. It is complex in plot and in love, and if there is to be a sequel, I would hope it would be with a lot less plot and a lot more romance.
Still worth it, though.
Most recent customer reviews
The hard part is how to review without giving anything away.... This is a solid mystery with plenty of threads, sonme red, some not.Read more