Death in the Spires

 Death in the Spires
Author: KJ Charles
Publisher: Storm Publishing
Release Date: April 11, 2024
Genre(s): M/M Murder Mystery, Historical
Page Count: 273
Rating: 5 stars out of 5 

Jem, Nicky, Aaron, Hugh, Toby, Ella and Prue - The Seven Wonders, or at the start "Feynsham's set" - Toby's curated collection of fellow students who met their first year in Oxford, becoming fast friends, until Toby's murder in the spring of their third year, 1895. Ten years after, Jem loses his lowly clerk job because of a note sent to his employer: 

Jeremy Kite is a murderer. 
He killed Toby Feynsham. 
Ask him why. 

Following Toby's death, they never told the police what really happened earlier that horrid evening and they went on with their lives, with varying degrees of success. Jem, who fell perhaps the lowest in the aftermath, decides once and for all to uncover who murdered Toby ... and why. 

 KJ Charles gives us the world of Oxford seen in a hundred movies (The world was before them, a great sunlit path through pleasant meadows with a glittering city at its end ready for them to conquer.) - Hugh Grantesque boys in long robes on the quad, friends arm in arm walking down the hallowed paths, student theatricals, etc.: 
"They were facing south, looking over Front Quad and Broad Street and toward the main spread of Oxford, and the setting sun turned everything before him to glowing rose gold. The domes and spires rose like masts from the sea, like prayers to heaven, a glory of human brilliance in stone ..." 
But it's also a world where while there is love and friendship, there is more. "Ah, British friendship ... Tolerance as long as everyone knows his place, but God forbid your subjects should declare themselves your equals." As Nicky says "So: all of us could have, none of us would have, one of us did." And while we ponder Toby's murder, we are lead to ask if murder can ever be justified and if worse crimes have gone unpunished. 

It's all deep, heady stuff and KJ Charles shepherds us through the discoveries, the abject sadness, the philosophical and the practical, all the while giving us a small M/M romance (with absolutely no hint of a HFN or HEA). I found this book deeply moving, completely engrossing and 5+ stars and a Recommended Read if you have the heart for it. 

I received an ARC from the publisher, Storm Publishing, in exchange for an honest review.

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