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Summary

Deception. Death. A deal with the devil.

When Dr. Nathan Frost, a lecturer in German literature at Oxford University, is invited to a lavish party at the country house of a wealthy businessman, he knows there'll be a price to pay. After all, as an expert on the legend of Faust and Mephistopheles, he can recognize a deal with the devil easily enough. But even he's not expecting such a sinister end to the evening.

Called to investigate a suspicious death at a country house, Detective Inspector Bridget Hart is surprised to find a government minister among the party guests. Her team must navigate powerful interests to find the truth. But in a world of favors, backhanders, and corruption, nothing is as it seems and nobody can be trusted.

©2020 Margarita Morris and Steve Morris (P)2021 Tantor

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Excellent narrator but a bit clumsily written

I should say I am a former student of Wadham (the college featured in this book) so I enjoyed the descriptions and, as always, the authors describe Oxford very well. Esther Wane is also an excellent narrator and part of the reason I listen to these books rather than read them.

However this book had a really rushed ending and quite a few things that seemed to me (even as a non police person) overlooked for the sake of the story.

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  • StL Reader
  • 20-02-21

Characters getting stiffer rather than fuller

It’s a mostly nice little story. I just wanted it to be better than it was. And it could have been. Storyline was ok, but as I did in the first of the series, I figured out “whodunit” way too early. Also, there were procedural missteps that were necessary to drive the story I found a tad annoying (spoiler: really, you didn’t take swabs from all the folks at the estate in the beginning, just the guests?).

More aggravating to me is the stiffness of the characters whenever they’re in romantic circumstances. All through this book statements are made about how characters are thinking & feeling instead of their actions reflecting those thoughts. There is no intimacy or passion between romantic partners. I’m not talking about actual descriptions of sex, I’m not asking for that. Just more BEHAVIOR and conversation that reflects intimacy and that pull between two people. Part of it is the narrator, who makes the closer moments sound stiffer than they need to be. There are characters having sex, we are told, but it almost feels transactional; i.e. sex is going to happen/has happened, but no desire or intimacy anywhere around.

Spoiler - The most disappointing thing in this story for me was how the authors turned Jake, a character I really liked, into a clueless dope. We’re TOLD explanations for the behavior and I haven’t figured out if the authors want us to think that his actions were inevitable (not inevitable at all as far as I’m concerned). I could say more on this, but I’ll leave it there.

I had become invested in the series, but I don’t think I’ll continue. The characters seem to be acquiring less rather than more depth.