Just had a cracking afternoon following the shenanigans and rumpuses of life at Old College. Lucy Brazier’s second novel about life as the first female to take up the post of Deputy Head Porter at a Cambridge college is an unconventional detective story. It’s a good pacey read, with plenty of twists, turns, puns and double-entendres.
What happens when you give a woman access to a bowler hat? It goes to her head, and then she gets to grips with the rest of the Porter accoutrements – starting with tea (lots of tea), yummy biscuits and some sharing of extra large mugs of whisky.
Sounds fun, but where’s the mystery? There’s a Head Porter with personal problems, a missing oil-painting, flashbacks to the founding of the college, convenient deaths, an interesting relationship with The Dean, and keys, lots of keys opening all sorts of locks. What does a college porter have to do with keys? Well at Old College, everything:
The uninitiated are often perplexed to discover our disinterest in their luggage and our almost obsessive fascination with keys. And hats, food and tea. Old College does like to attribute unusual and inappropriate titles to things.
So why else would there be keys? Well this is a novel of detection, which makes keys the perfect metaphor, too. Watch out for the fishy ones.
Are you tempted yet? Try a little scandal.
Night Porter is looking at me aghast.
“So, it’s true, then,” he says. “What on Earth do you see in him?”
I consider this question wisely. The fanciful affair between myself and The Dean has been a very good cover for all number of even more scandalous machinations, but it is a difficult pretence to maintain.
“What can I say?” I reply wearily, “It’s his intellect. And inventive use of the ‘F’ word.”
I’ve been allowed within the gates of a privileged world where sins come in different shapes and sizes, and encompass all kinds of actions, from buying the wrong kind of biscuits, and walking on the grass, to the breaking of bones, locks and desks and a lot more that fall between and around those examples. And it’s all done at a cracking pace and with charm and wit.
And the crucial question, where can you get hold of a copy? There are links for both Porter Girl novels on the Porter Girl blog site, where there’s lots of additional photographs and material, as well as snippets from Lucy’s other fictional enterprises, including Poirot parodies, and some political satire.
Or you could just check it out on Amazon – but the blog has so much more to enjoy I’d recommend that route.