The book opens with Sheila Mallory dropping her son, Michael, off at Oxford. She is staying in Oxford herself visiting with a friend and doing research for her work at the Bodleian Library. A death has occurred at the library and for Mrs. Mallory and her godson Tony, something does not seem right about calling it an accident. Mrs. Mallory’s investigation takes her back to events that happened in the war, to her own Oxford days and her first love Rupert, and to present day motives and machinations.
What really shines through in this book is the sense of place and the obvious love for Oxford and the Bodleian Library. The reader is transported there and seeing it all through Sheila Mallory’s eyes and her sense of nostalgia. The whole feel of the book is that you are immersed in this pristine academic setting that has been sullied by murder and the weight of secrets from long ago. The sense of regret and lost youth permeates many of the characters, thus the reference in the title, The Cruellest Month.
Well written mystery, the denouement seems a little anti-climactic but still satisfying. I will definitely be reading more in this series.