The Vanishing Lord (PorterGirl 2) by Lucy Brazier

Missing paintings and medieval rumpy-pumpy…

😀 😀 😀 😀 🙂

In this second book, PorterGirl has settled in now at Old College and begun to understand some of the weird traditions. So when the famous portrait of the college’s founder Lord Layton disappears, she knows not to call the police – the college keeps its problems to itself. Unfortunately the police aren’t quite so au fait with the college’s rules, so when word leaks out, they come snooping around and soon begin to suspect that the wall of silence they’re being met with from the Dean and porters suggests they must know more about the alleged theft than they’re letting on. Meantime a mysterious man is spotted around the college – who is he? And why does Deputy Head Porter keep getting the feeling she’s being followed? And did the Master of neighbouring Hawkins College die a natural death or is he one in the long line of mysterious murders that afflict these ancient institutions? And, most importantly, can Deputy Head Porter manage to filch a few more giant cookies from Head of Catering?? A girl has to keep her strength up after all…

The PorterGirl stories originated as a blog in which Lucy fictionalised her real life experiences as the first female Deputy Head Porter at one of our most ancient colleges. One hopes she exaggerates quite a bit! Lucy is a long-time blog buddy of mine, so you will have to assume that I’m biased.

Having said that, I thoroughly enjoyed this second outing and felt it was a significant step up in terms of structure and writing from the first. Knowing Lucy, I’m aware that following the initial issue of the first book she was signed up by a publisher and, as a result, this book has had a professional edit. One of my criticisms of The First Lady of the Keys (originally published as Secret Diary of PorterGirl) was that sometimes the bloggy nature of its origin showed through, with the early chapters reading more like rather loosely related journal entries before she got properly into her stride later in the book. This slight problem has been eliminated in the new book, so that it flows much better, with the humorous digressions arising out of the plot rather than impeding it.

This is not to suggest it has become sensible – I’d never accuse Lucy of that! The characters are just as quirky, the plot proudly struts far over the credibility line, the vocabulary is as grandiloquent as ever, and the humour takes priority.

Deputy Head Porter

The main characters are developed a bit more in this outing. Porter gets a bit of a love interest while Head Porter is behaving very mysteriously, leading to all kinds of suspicions as to what he might be up to. The Dean continues to cause mayhem wherever he goes, and seems to look to Deputy Head Porter to provide him with with a constant supply of mysteries for them to investigate – which in Old College isn’t too tricky since barely a day goes by without some poor academic keeling over under unexplained circumstances. There are some great humorous set pieces, like the drunken night in the Dean’s office – or, to be more specific, the resulting hangover the following day. Or the occasion when the Dean thinks it might be a good idea for them all to don fancy dress and invade the neighbouring college…

To add to the fun, Deputy Head Porter stumbles across an ancient diary kept by one of her earliest predecessors and we are treated to occasional extracts. The diary explains the origins of some of the traditions which have baffled Deputy Head Porter, but also tells us a good deal about the diarist’s complicated love-life, all in deliciously mock medieval language. We also find out a bit about the original Lord Layton, the man behind the portrait – a man who makes the Borgias seem quite cuddly.

Fie! Today hast been a wonder, I tellst thee. The wants of these educated gentlefolk taketh it out of a man. The Order of the Lesser Dragon hast invited other learned muggins to the College to work as tutors and run matters. They are naming themselves ‘The Fellowship’ and now I wonder about what the mynster said ere about them having the occult ways because since they arrived the morrow there hast been strange and terrible ceremonials in the chapel and they weren’t no ways of God I can tell thee that as I know well the ways of God, which can also be strange and terrible, but leastways there is the promyse of Heaven at the end of it and all you get at the end of College days is a fancye parchment with your name on it.

If I was being hypercritical (which, as you know, I am!) I’d mention that, just occasionally, the high-flown language which is a trademark of the books leads to words being used when they don’t quite mean what they’re being used to mean, which makes this pedant twitchy. And, viewing it as a standalone, I’d suggest the ending is perhaps a little anti-climactic. However in many respects this is a serial rather than a series, so there are plenty of hanging threads ready to be picked up and woven into the next volume.

All-in-all, a most enjoyable romp – the kind of book that brightens up a dull day. I hope Lucy is working hard on the next episode!

Amazon UK Link
Amazon US Link

* * * * * * *

PS My apologies for suddenly disappearing and not responding to comments etc for the last few days. I had a mini domestic trauma, involving cat fight, emergency vet, stitches, etc – all’s well though. Tuppence is almost fully recovered, and my wounds should heal soon too – she really doesn’t like being put in a catbox!

And now I’m disappearing again…gotta support my boys…

See y’all in a couple of weeks! 😀

37 thoughts on “The Vanishing Lord (PorterGirl 2) by Lucy Brazier

  1. *Squeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!!* This is my favourite review ever 🙂 I really appreciate your honesty (I know I’m not reaching for great literary heights with PorterGirl) but more than anything I am genuinely chuffed to pieces that you enjoyed it. I’m glad you can see an improvement from the the first book, I hope the next one (currently in progress!) will be a little step up again. This has absolutely made my day, nay, my week. Mumsie will be even more delighted! 😀

    • Hurrah! Glad you’re pleased, and hope Mumsie will be too! 😀 Definitely improved – it’s much better structured. And you know I have to be picky – I have a reputation to keep up… 😉 You’re up to 4 and a half stars now – will you crack the full 5 with book 3??? I’m confident…

      Seriously, thoroughly enjoyed it! Great fun – especially the medieval diary which was a brilliant touch! 😀

      • I sent Mumsie a link and she is tickled pink with the review! I set her up on Facebook at the weekend and she now sees herself as some sort of cyber warrior 😀
        Really, genuinely pleased – it’s a very fair review, actually rather generous I thought! I am aiming for the full 5 stars for the next one 🙂
        Humphrey’s diary was brilliant fun to write. When I was getting bogged down with epic writing sessions of the main story, I would think – I know, let’s write a bit of the diary and lighten the mood. Top tip, aspiring writer! 😀

        • Haha! I may well be the only person left in the world who doesn’t use Facebook… *smug face* 😉 I’m glad she’s pleased! 😀

          Go for it! But I’m a tough audience… gotta keep all you authors on your toes… 😉

          Haha! I must admit I always enjoy writing in those kinda mock voices too, at a different level of course. But pastiching Moby Dick seems so much easier than writing something serious… 😀

          • I may well stop using Facebook now Mumsie is on it… 😮
            You do a fine service to authors and readers alike – if you didn’t keep us on our toes, the quality of writing would undoubtedly suffer. Think of yourself as the saviour of modern literature 😉
            The day I write anything serious is the day people will start to worry…

  2. This does sound tempting for some light reading. Glad your cat is on the mend. Cats can be a worry, ours a while back managed to cut her leg badly somehow on wire or something like it, 😮😱. Absolute nightmare! But she recovered. And go Rafa! 😃

    • It’s a good fun read for when you just want something light and amusing. I seem to spend half my life worrying about the cats. Part of me would like to just keep them in, but they get so bored. It’s tricky keeping the injured one in and letting the healthy one out though – I’ve had one accidental escape already. I’m worn to a shadow! 😉 Glad yours recovered – they do tend to be quite resilient thank goodness!

      Vamos, Rafa! C’mon, Andy! Go, Petra!

  3. Oh, this sounds like so much fun, FictionFan! I’m very glad you enjoyed it (and I can see why). So sorry to hear about Tuppence! I’m glad she’s doing better now. Enjoy your blog break, and we’ll see you in a few weeks.

    • It is – a fun romp to cheer up the day! Tuppence is fine, I’m glad to say, and seems to be none the worse for the experience, poor girl. Vamos, Rafa! C’mon, Andy!

  4. Ha, ha, I liked the comment that you were never going to accuse PorterGirl of being sensible! That’s exactly how I feel – great fun, and good to know that this is even better than the first.
    Sorry to hear about your cat emergencies… They do make one worry so much, don’t they? And don’t appreciate our attempts to get them cured.
    Have a fun fortnight, I thought of you and knew you were going to be busy!

    • Hahaa, yes “sense” and “Lucy” just don’t seem to belong together in the same sentence… 😉

      I feel as if I worry about the cats all the time. Part of me wants to just keep them in and be sure they’re safe, but they love going out so it seems cruel. But she’s fine again, thank goodness, and doesn’t seem to have been put off going out…

      Vamos, Andy! C’mon, Rafa! Oops! I think I’m getting confused…

    • Tuppence reckons she’s back to normal – I’m desperately trying to persuade her to take it easy till the stitches disappear (they’re soluble apparently) but it’s a losing battle… 😉

      Thank you! PorterGirl’s book is a lot of fun – hope it does well! 😀

  5. I love that this is more of a serial than a series. There is something so charming about serials, and I’m sad that the only way we get serials anymore is on TV: The Walking Dead, Orange is the New Black, Breaking Bad, etc.

    You had another great line, L: “the plot proudly struts far over the credibility line” 😀

    • I like serials too, though in books I like it when you can read each as a standalone as well, which you can with this one. It’s always good to read them in order though, so you can follow the background story. I hardly watch TV any more – well, except news and tennis!

      Haha! Thank you! 😀 *struts proudly*

      • I just have Netflix and watch Jeopardy! on local television. Most shows created by Netflix are serials, so I think it really makes me want serial stories. For instance, when I used to read comics more, you HAD to wait for the next one to come out to see what happened next, and it felt like you were going to die of impatience. On the other hand, if you read a serial that’s already all published, it might as well be a novel. That’s what Dickens did! Almost all of his books were serials first, which meant that readers could write in and make suggestions for what happened next.

    • Always good food in these books! Though usually it’s sausage sandwiches… 😉

      The books are fun, and it’s good to watch a new writer hone her craft! Thank you! She thinks she’s fully recovered – I’m fighting a losing battle trying to get her to take it easy. 😀 Vamos, Rafa!! C’mon, Andy!! I’m torn…

  6. FF, you’re such a good friend to help promote Lucy’s book! I haven’t read it yet, but I absolutely intend to. It never ceases to amaze me how apparent it is when a book is professionally edited. So sorry to hear of your “domestic trauma.” Sounds painful. I recall being cat-scratched when I was but a wee lass, and it’s stuck with me lo these many years. Happy tennis-ing!!!

    • It’s a lot of fun, Debbie – I think you’ll enjoy it. Ha! Tuppence has me well trained to tolerate the odd scratch, sadly. But I’m glad to report she’s more or less back to normal – just wish her hair would grow back a bit quicker!

  7. I’ve got this one on my Kindle, waiting to be moved up the TBR list, which, at present, a journey which is even slower than awaiting a call centre telling me how important my call is to them. Will report back.

    • Oh, I hope you enjoy it – Lucy always manages tio make me laugh. Ha! I know – some books have been on my list so long they’ve turned yellow… and that’s just the Kindle ones… 😉

  8. Sorry about the cat … and you. Ours get into it from time-to-time, and three of them were litter mates. A&E for pets is never fun. And cats are so seldom in the carriers……they freak out.

    I am currently reading First Lady of the Keys. Enjoying it and appreciating something different from what I usually read. Vanishing Lord is next TBR.

    By now, I am sure you have gotten the Rafa Wimbledon outcome…. 😦 But you will still have some other top players to watch!

    • My two hiss at each other but don’t actually fight, but there’s a horrible tomcat in the neighbourhood who’s always beating up all the other cats. Grrr!

      Glad you’re enjoying it – Lucy always manages to make me laugh. 😀

      Oh, dear, what a Wimbledon! Every time I supported anyone they lost! I came to the conclusion I must be jinxing them all… 😉 Still, I suppose it was quite nice to see Roger win again.

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