Village nurse Walter Kennett is content with his makeshift found-family in tiny Bradfield. However one midsummer morning a body is found floating in the village duck pond, dead by magical means.
Detective Simon Frost arrives in Bradfield to investigate an inexplicable murder. The evidence seems to point to Lucille Hall-Bridges, who lives with doctor Sylvia Marks and nurse Walter Kennett at Courtfield House. Simon isn’t happy—he doesn’t believe Lucy is a murderer but he’s sure the three of them are hiding something. In the meantime, the draw he feels toward Walter takes him by surprise.
Walter is in a dilemma, concealing Sylvia and Lucy’s relationship and not knowing how much to tell Frost about the paranormal possibilities of the murder. He isn’t interested in going to bed with anyone—he’s got a complicated life and has to know someone really well before he falls between the sheets. He’s taken aback by his own attraction to Detective Frost and angry when Frost appears to twist the spark between them to something transactional in nature.
Will Walter be satisfied to stay on the periphery of Lucy and Sylvia’s love affair, a welcome friend but never quite included? Or is it time for him to strike out and embark on a relationship of his own?
The second in the Bradfield trilogy, set in the Border Magic universe. With a transm/m couple.
As Simon was replacing the device on the telephone table a pretty young woman put her head out of a door at toward the end of the hall. “Sylv!” she said, “Do you want tea? I’ve boiled the kettle.” and then when she realised he wasn’t who she thought he was, “Oh, I do beg your pardon! I thought you were Dr Marks!”.
“She’s still in the surgery,” Simon nodded across the hall.
The woman emerged into the hall. “Lucille Hall-Bridges,” she said, extending a hand. “I’m a friend of Sylvia’s. I help with the house.”
Simon took her hand in his. Her grip was sure and warm. “Detective Frost,” he replied. “Nice to meet you, Miss Hall-Bridges. She had a recent bruise running from her jaw to just below her eye, entering the black-and-purple stage.
“I’ve made a pot of tea,” she was saying. “I don’t know whether anyone will want any, but I do like to feel useful and tea is so…normal-making, isn’t it?”
He nodded, slightly bemused at her chatter. “Yes, indeed,” he said. “Very normal.”
She gave a perfunctory tap on the surgery door, opened it and disappeared inside without waiting for a response. “Sylv, Walter, I’ve made tea. Would you and your detective like to come into the drawing room?” Her voice faded, presumably as she joined them in the examination room.
There was a pause. Then, “Oh!” he heard her say. “Oh.” She sounded a little shocked. “What’s happened to her hands?” she asked.
“Scraped on the bottom on the pond I think,” Simon heard Dr Marks say. “She was face-down in the water.”
“Oh.” Miss Hall-Bridges’ voice was small. “Sylvia…there’s…she’s…I can feel…do you think…?” Her voice trailed off and Dr Marks spoke over her, clearly away they might be overhead.
“Let’s not worry about that now, shall we? The policeman is sending her down to Taunton to a postmortem. You go and take the tea-things into the drawing room. We’ll just cover her up.”
4 out of 5 (very good)
THE QUID PRO QUO is the second book in the Bradfield Trilogy although you could, as I have, read it as a standalone.
It is set in 1920's England where magic comes alive in a not-so-fun way. Walt is the nurse to Sylvia's doctor and the story starts with them being called to the village duckpond as a body has been found. The mystery unravels as the story progresses, giving you insight into a world 'other' than our own.
This is paced perfectly for a cozy mystery - with questions aplenty until it is all explained nicely and wrapped in a bow. I really want to read books one and three now (even though book three isn't even available yet) just to see where it takes me. The characters are wonderfully relatable and the world is both realistic and nostalgic in a rose-tinted glasses kind of way.
The story and characters held my attention from the beginning and kept me enthralled until the end. Thoroughly enjoyable and absolutely recommended by me.
** same worded review will appear elsewhere **
* A copy of this book was provided to me with no requirements for a review. I voluntarily read this book, and the comments here are my honest opinion. *
Archaeolibrarian - I Dig Good Books!
Writer of queer, paranormal, historical, romantic suspense, mostly. Lives in the South West of England with Mr AL, two children, a terrifying cat, some hens and the duckettes. Likes gardening but doesn't really have time or energy. Not musical. Doesn't much like telly. Non-binary. Chronically disabled. Has tedious fits.