Monday 23 October 2023

πŸ“– Book Review~ Ostler by Susan Grossey

21 August 2023

Cambridge Hardiman Mysteries #1

My thanks to the author for my copy of this book

After the horrors of war against the forces of Napoleon and the hardships of guarding convicts in Australia, ex-soldier Gregory Hardiman is enjoying the quiet life of an ostler at a Cambridge coaching inn, with only the occasional nightmare to disturb his sleep, and memory of lost loves to disturb his waking hours. But when the inn’s cook is found drowned in the river in the spring of 1825 and his distraught widow pleads for help, Gregory finds himself caught up in the unexpectedly murky world of college life in the town. As fine wines and precious artworks disappear from St Clement’s College, he navigates uneasily between the public world of the coaching inn and the hidden life behind the high walls of the college. And when a new law requires the university to create a cadre of constables, will Gregory take on the challenge?

πŸ“– My Review..

I’ve just spent an enjoyable few days in nineteenth century Cambridge in company with Gregory Hardiman as he goes about his work as the ostler at the Sun Hotel. This is a responsible position, tending to the horses and ensuring that coaches bound for London, and beyond, leave for their journeys on time. Ex-soldier, Hardiman is a conscientious man, consistent in his work and generous with his time and always with an obligation towards those less fortunate than himself. When the body of George Ryder, the Sun Hotel’s cook, is found in the river, Hardiman senses foul play and is determined to find out more. This investigation takes Hardiman deep into the heart of the Cambridge Colleges and to a complex mystery involving, theft, deception and murder.

Beautifully written by an author whose knowledge of Cambridge, and impeccable research, brings this nineteenth century world alive in such a way that place and people bound into life. The story wraps around you with ease and at each step of the mystery a little bit more is revealed, not just about Hardiman, who I am sure we will discover more about as the series progresses, but also about the intricacies of nineteenth century life in a bustling collegiate town. Mysteries and complexities abound, and throughout, stalwart and steadfast, Hardiman goes quietly about his business, methodical in his manner and naturally trustworthy. His easy affability draws people to him and yet there are complexities within him and secrets we have yet to discover.

Villians, rogues, pugilists and academics vie for attention as we are drawn deeper into a complicated crime mystery and a story which entertained from first page to last. I’m already looking forward to spending more time with Gregory Hardiman in future historical crime mysteries.

About the Author

Susan Grossey is the author of the successful Constable Sam Plank series of historical novels set in the early part of the nineteenth century. Ostler is the first novel in the Cambridge Hardiman Mysteries, set in Cambridge in the 1820s and narrated by a university constable called Gregory Hardiman.

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