Especially (cozy) crime series are often written in a way that you can read them in any order. Previous events are rarely referenced and characters aren't changed much by them.
The Cambridge Fellows is not one of them. On the one hand this is a good thing. It gives the characters more depth if they are affected by events from previous books instead of everybody pretending like they never happened. On the other if you read them out of order things can get...messy. There are frequent mentions of things that happened in previous books and some of them (partly) spoil the solutions of the cases. Not all references are to cases, things that happened in the personal lives of the characters also get mentioned.
I am not kidding. The fact that Orlando's father committed suicide in front of the whole family has been mentioned more times than I can count and this is only the third book I'm reading. (To be fair: two of them were about deaths that looked like suicides so that would of course bring up memories but it's not the only thing that gets mentioned again and again).
So I ended up alternating between being annoyed because I still intend to read the rest of the series and got spoiled and being annoyed because something I already knew got repeated again.
You, dear reader, will undoubtedly have noticed that I wrote ' I still intend to read the rest of the series' so despite just ranting half a page it can't have been that bad. And no, it wasn't. The repetitions are annoying but I enjoyed the rest a lot.
The sleuths in the book are a gay couple and the book is set in Edwardian times. I read a couple of historical novels featuring gay characters and they can be divided into 'All the gay angst. All the time' (most of them) and 'LOL isn't being gay hilarious?'. And I am not a fan of either of them. Of course you can't ignore that being gay was a crime in many places for a long period of time. But that doesn't mean that all the thoughts of the characters have to revolve around that fact every minute and there has to be an added dose of heavy Catholic gay guilt.
The Cambridge Fellows treads that line very well. Both have accepted their feelings and due to (admittedly very) lucky circumstances don't have to worry about being found out unless they act very foolishly. But there is still talk of how they can't show their affection openly and how they have to be careful in certain situations.
The case itself is decent. I might have more complaints if locked-room mysteries weren't among my favourite crime-tropes and I can happily forgive them some really outlandish solutions because I just like locked-room mysteries a lot.
ARC from NetGalley.