Book Review: Invitation to Die by Barbara Cleverly @soho_press

Invitation to Die
A Detective Inspector Redefyre Investigation Book 2
Barbara Cleverly
Soho Crime, August 2019
ISBN: 978-1-64129-027-2

Set in Cambridge in 1924 after the Great War has decimated the ranks of able-bodied English men, nearly every man is a former soldier. This includes Detective Inspector John Redefyre, a former rifleman who is young for his position. When veterans of the earlier Boer war begin showing up dead, their bodies left in conspicuous places with nothing to identify them, he is on the hunt. A keen investigator, even the smallest clues soon help him uncover who the victims are, and he means to bring justice to his fellows. Certain things stand out. The dead men were all members of the same squad. They all were cashiered and faced the death penalty for looting. And they all have received, though some were little more than beggars, an invitation to dine with members of an exclusive Cambridge University club. Finally, just one of the six man squad remains alive, while one other is dying. But which one is the killer? Keen eyes and sharp wits help Redefyre and his sergeant, Thoday, ferret out the truth behind the deaths.

I liked the historical ambiance of the story. Though written in 2019, the method and writing could be pure 1920s, with the “smart” people and their witty conversations. Lots of conversations, as this isn’t a particularly action-packed story and relies on dialogue. At times it was difficult to keep track of who was speaking. As a reader, I didn’t really know who was driving the story for several chapters as the participants were often nameless. I must say, however, the parts detailing the Boer War held my complete interest.

Outside of the mystery, the actions, life style, and living conditions of the era are fascinating. Just don’t try to feed me jellied eels, although I’d love to learn to tango.

Reviewed by Carol Crigger, January 2020.
Author of The Woman Who Built A Bridge (Spur Award Winner), Yester’s Ride,
Hometown Burning and Five Days, Five Dead: A China Bohannon Novel