A big welcome to Jim Austen as part of his review tour with Signal Boost Promotions for Murder at Oakschott Hall.
This story is a mash-up of Murder at School by James Hilton, so uses much of that story’s plotline and its characters. I’ve read mash-ups before and enjoyed the way they bring in elements of the original, yet tweak it to bring in another genre, in this case gay romance.
I liked the writing style of this story, with its tongue-in-cheek feel of its 1920s setting. It reads a little like a social commentary especially where Colin is concerned, so I thought that part of it read well. I also liked the reference in the description of Max to that of Rupert Brook, which gave me a lovely visual. However, I did find the amount of sex in the story to be offputting, and it detracted from the mystery detective story, which I enjoyed. I also felt the former didn’t gel with the time period. I found the countless footnotes very distracting, especially as I was reading an ebook so they stood out in the text as they were hyperlinked to a URL. I thought the description of Max’s experiences in the trenches was well done, yet that too jarred with me as most soldiers with PTSD—or shellshock as it was called at the time—didn’t talk about their experiences so readily.
I loved the twist in the tale, which I hadn’t anticipated, and although I guessed who the murderer was, it didn’t detract from my enjoyment of that part of the plot.
I’d recommend Murder at Oakschott Hall to readers who enjoy mash-up mystery detective historical stories with a twist, and who don’t mind reading a lot of sexual scenes. 3 out of 5 stars.
Cover Design: Reese Dante
Length: 50,000 words approx.
They have eyes for each other. But someone is eyeing them for murder. An erotic gay romance mystery.
In the Junior students’ dormitory at Oakschott Hall, a heavy gaslight falls from the ceiling, crushing the head of a student sleeping beneath it. Was it simply a tragic accident? To avoid publicity, the Headmaster asks Colin Revell, a young Oxford University graduate and former Oakschott student, to quietly investigate.
While interviewing the faculty and staff, Colin meets Max Lambourne, a handsome don who was wounded and gassed in WWI. When Colin tries to help Max overcome his trauma and depression, the two men fall in love and begin an erotic affair.
But when another student dies—diving at night into an empty swimming pool—murder is suspected. Students and faculty all come under suspicion, and rumors proliferate when Scotland Yard intervenes. Meanwhile, during all this confusion and wild theories, the murderer sees Colin and Max as threats. Unbeknownst to the two lovers, their lives are now in danger.
Born in 1984, Jim Austen grew up in Murphy, Texas. He graduated from the University of Texas-Austin with a degree in communications and journalism. He works as a news producer for a station in Rhode Island.
Jim lives south of Boston with his wife and two children. A bisexual husband, he ‘came out’ to his wife 10 years ago after the birth of their second child. “My marriage and my gay life,” he says, “have each given me moments of great joy. However, it is a myth to believe a bisexual husband has the best of both worlds.”
Murder at Oakschott Hall is his first M/M romance novel. Jim is currently working on a novel about a bisexual married man called The Unfinished Husband.
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