Sinister Dexter (PorterGirl 3) by Lucy Brazier

Tea-bag crisis strikes Old College!

😀 😀 😀 😀 😀

Things have got very dark indeed in Old College since we last visited. The new Bursar, Professor Dexter Sinistrov, whom we last met while he was engaged in nefarious goings-on in the neighbouring college, has now settled into his role. His first priority has been to cut the catering budget, leading to a serious shortage of biscuits in the Porters Lodge – and they’re down to their last three tea-bags! This tragedy, along with the small matter of two corpses being found at the bottom of the garden, means our beloved Deputy Head Porter has her hands full. Especially since The Dean seems to think the best way to solve the crime would be for him to dress up as Zorro, Head Porter is busily leading a double life online, and Porter is becoming ever more romantically involved with the local police sergeant. Mind you, Deputy Head Porter herself doesn’t seem totally immune to the charms of DCI Thompson…

….“Oh, you’re a porter, are you?” Professor Palmer seats himself and leans over, perilously close to my breakfast. I place a defensive forearm around the plate. “You’re rather pretty to be carrying bags, don’t you think?”
….It takes every ounce of temperance to refrain from stabbing him in the face with my fork. Had it not already got bacon on it, I’m afraid this would have very likely been the outcome.
….“Porters,” I emphasise the upper-case P through gritted teeth, “are not the carriers of bags, but the keepers of keys.”

I shall start with my usual disclaimer – I’ve been blog buddies with Lucy for years now, so you may have to assume that I’m biased…

This series has been loads of fun since the beginning, when it started out as a serialisation on Lucy’s blog. The first book, First Lady of the Keys, (previously titled Secret Diary of PorterGirl), was taken directly from the blog and occasionally showed its origins by being a bit loose in structure perhaps, especially in the early chapters. But the second book, The Vanishing Lord, and this one are both much tighter and better plotted. There is a running story arc in the background so the books are very definitely meant to be read in order. In fact, the opening of this one contains lots of spoilers for the earlier books.

With this third book, I feel Lucy has really taken a step up in terms of plotting, giving this one a distinct story of its own as well as progressing the background story. A young student and his boyfriend are found dead in each others arms in the College gardens, with no visible signs of how they died. DCI Thomson and his team carry out the official investigation, while The Dean and his team carry out an unofficial one. In the background, the usual machinations of the Fellowship of Old College continue, with suggestions that the Vicious Circle, a secret society within the College who mete out their own form of vengeance against anyone who they feel endangers college tradition, might be back in operation. The mysterious and menacing Professor Sinistrov is acting suspiciously, but is he part of the Vicious Circle? Or, as The Dean suspects, a Russian spy? Or does he have a secret agenda of his own? Or is he simply anti-biscuit? No-one can be sure, but if Deputy Head Porter doesn’t get a decent cup of tea soon, there’ll be ructions…

….“I think it’s fair to say that we are of the opinion that Maurinio and his rugged companion were engaged in a personal relationship?”
….The Dean’s approach to the subject matter is amusing. Which is why what he says next is all the more surprising.
….“I would have made an excellent homosexual, Deputy Head Porter” he continues, wistfully. “I’ve always had above average good looks and an unusually superior sense of style.”
….“Yes” I say, tentatively. “I think there is somewhat more to it than that, Sir.” But he isn’t listening. He has found a crusted stain on the hem of his jumper and is scratching at it furiously.

Lucy Brazier

The story is only part of the fun of these books though. Mostly it’s about the quirky bunch of characters Lucy has created and the strange and esoteric life of this ancient institution based, not altogether exaggeratedly, on one of our real much-revered universities. The Dean continues to be at the centre of most of the daily mayhem, while Head Porter’s character is gradually deepening as we learn more about his life outside the college. While totally loyal to the College and her colleagues, Deputy Head Porter observes them with an objective and humorous eye, and continues to try to get everyone to behave a little more sensibly – a hopeless task, I fear! As always, there are some set-piece comedy scenes – I’m proud to claim a tiny bit of credit for being part of the crowd of blog followers who forced Lucy to take her characters off to an open-mic night disguised as a struggling rock band!

Great fun! I’m even willing to overlook the fact that it’s written in my pet hate present tense. If you haven’t visited Old College yet, I heartily recommend you do so the very next time you need cheering up. But remember to read them in order! And Lucy, I hope you’re hard at work on the next one…

Amazon UK Link
Amazon US Link

25 thoughts on “Sinister Dexter (PorterGirl 3) by Lucy Brazier

  1. So glad you enjoyed this one as well as you did, FictionFan. But then, you knew you would, right? I really do like the wit here, and of course, the academic setting appeals, too. Little wonder this one ticked all the boxes for you.

    • Ha – yes, Lucy’s British-style humour always tickles me, and this was a good one! The characters are exaggerated but not so much that they feel unrealistic, if you know what I mean. Great fun! 😀

  2. Brilliant — both your review and Lucy’s third book! I haven’t read it yet, but I’m intending to … and soon. Sounds like Lucy is sharpening her writer’s skills and the results will pay off for readers!

    • They are – the kind of good fun that brightens up an otherwise dull day! But make sure you have plenty of tea and biscuits available before you begin… 😀

  3. Woohoo! 5 stars!!! 😀 This is my proudest professional achievement 🙂 And you now know that you won’t have to endure FPPT any longer – this is the last one. Obviously I’m really pleased that you enjoyed it, not least because you have seen Old College grow from its humble to origins to its… er… humble present. And yes – the open mic night at the Jiggery Pokery was very much your doing, my dear! And do let BigSister know how pleased I am she enjoyed it. Hugs and wine to you both! 😀

    • Hahaha – better than the Booker, eh? 🤣 Well done – I enjoyed it a lot. I had actually thought this came after you stopped serialising them on the blog, so I was kinda surprised to recognise it when I started reading. Looking forward to knowing nothing about the next one going in – and also to the past tense – woohoo!! 😀

  4. I was waiting for the content about present tense, and there it was at the very bottom! Do you think you can convince the author to use past tense next time? I confess I found it hard to get into the flow of the quotes due to the verb tense.

      • I’ve enjoyed all three books immensely – intrigued to see what the change of style will bring to book four – I kind of like ‘Lucy’s ‘ style as is … but she’s a clever woman who you kind of know will succeed no matter how she words it!

        • Present tense is a pet hate of mine so it’s a tribute to how well Lucy does it that I enjoy the books anyway. But I’m turning double somersaults at the thought of the next one being in past tense! I think that’s what she used for her great Poirot pastiche…

Please leave a comment - I'd love to know who's visiting and what you think...of the post, of the book, of the blog, of life, of chocolate...

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.