Title: Murder at Oakschott Hall: A Gay Romance Mystery
Author: Jim Austen
Publisher: Flying Heron Press
Release Date: February 19, 2019
Genre(s): Murder Mystery, M/M Historical
Page Count: 204
Reviewed by: CrabbyPatty
Heat Level: 3 flames out of 5
Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5
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.
I must admit I started reading this book at a disadvantage – I was unaware that it is a mashup of James Hilton’s novel Murder at School, published in 1931. FYI – James Hilton is perhaps better known for writing Lost Horizon and Goodbye, Mr. Chips.
Mr. Austen has faithfully followed the plot of Mr. Hilton’s work (changing Colin and Max’s relationship into a sexual one) and the problems I have with the plot are inherited from Mr. Hilton. To me, the villain of the piece is fairly obvious and the third murder and the subsequent events feel …. awkward. While I really liked the relationship dynamic between Max and Colin (and the sex is pretty darn hawt), they go from acquaintances with a spark of sexual interest to “suck my cock. Suck my fucking cock” in about a hot second. However, I like how this relationship colors the story in that, given how Colin feels about Max, does he trust his heart or does he follow his intellect?
I’m giving “Murder at Oakschott Hall” 3.5 stars, but I really enjoyed Jim Austen’s writing style. FYI, the last 10% of the book is a review of his next novel The Unfinished Husband which really grabbed my attention. It is compelling and heartbreaking and I cannot wait to read it.
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