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Fall of Angels

(Inspector Redfyre Mystery #1)

3.46  ·  Rating details ·  543 ratings  ·  106 reviews
Barbara Cleverly, bestselling author of the Joe Sandilands series, introduces an ingenious new sleuth who navigates 1920s Cambridge, a European intellectual capital on the cusp of dramatic change.

England 1923: Detective Inspector John Redfyre is a godsend to the Cambridge CID. The ancient university city is at war with itself: town versus gown, male versus female, press
Kindle Edition, 385 pages
Published May 15th 2018 by Soho Crime
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Maine Colonial
Mar 17, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery, british
I received a free ARC for review purposes.

I was attracted by the set-up for this novel, the first in a new series. It’s set in Cambridge, and I do like my English mysteries. The time is 1923, and I’m attracted to between-the-wars period stories. I also liked the description, with young DI Redfyre investigating the attempted murder of a beautiful female trumpeter and the apparently related murder of another young woman that same evening. Is a misogynist at work, one who can’t stand the increasing
First Sentence: “Hello? Detective John Redfyre, Cambridge CID here.”

It’s 1923, the age of the women’s suffrage movement, and DI John Redfyre has been invited by his aunt to a Christmas concert. It is a bit scandalous in that the featured trumpeter is a lovely young woman, Juno Proudfoot. Is someone so upset they would try to kill her through a triggered fall down stone steps? When the next attempt on another woman succeeds it’s up to Redfrye to uncover both the motive and the killer.

Nothing jarringly wrong with this, but something about the tone didn't work for me. It was partly a great deal of guidebook-style conversation, and partly something about the voice/reactions of the detective. There was a lot of what I guess was supposed to be bright badinage that fell flat for me.

It wasn't enough to stop me listening to the end, but I don't think I'd pick up another book by this author.
J. Merwin
Nov 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Wow! I love well-written mysteries, one's that are more like a full course meal and not a cozy but predictable snack. Barbara Cleverly's Fall of angels, set in the 1920's, Cambridge's academia is being set upon by the second wave of independent women, fully rouged and painted and fighting for their rights. Wittily described and elaborate in atmosphere and's a frothy champagne cocktail and a challenging mystery that doesn't give away guessing ahead of time. The other ...more
Apr 02, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
At times, it felt like there were two different novels going on here. One was a loving parody of classic British crime fiction, but the other was a very earnest story of early 20th century feminism, and the two didn't always marry well on the page. Both aspects, individually, had considerable strengths and I enjoyed Redfyre and Earwig and Aunt Henrietta; I only wish the book's two aspects had found a happy medium that allowed them to blend more seamlessly.
May 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
Originally published at Reading Reality

I keep wanting the author’s name to be Beverly Cleverly, but it’s not. Fall of Angels, however, is a very clever little mystery, filled with interesting characters and tempting red herrings – and a few flaws.

I picked this book up because I was looking for something a bit less weighty than the rest of my books this week. But while it is a bit shorter, after finishing it I’m not so sure that it was actually lighter, at least not in the end.

It feels as if
Cathy Cole
Fall of Angels, the first Inspector Redfyre mystery, has all the trademarks fans of Barbara Cleverly's writing have come to expect: seamless period detail that puts readers right into the time and place of the book, witty dialogue, strong intriguing characters, and a mystery that keeps armchair sleuths guessing. These are all here in abundance, and fans should be thrilled.

Unfortunately, I wasn't. The book fell flat for me, and-- after reading books from Cleverly's Joe Sandilands and Laetitia
John Redfyre is an impoverished aristocrat who did well in World War I and then joined the police. He's now a rising star in the Cambridge police force, as he is comfortable with both town and gown, who are, as usual, at swords' point. When he goes to an Advent concert, he's surprised that one of the soloists is a beautiful, talented young woman--usually forbidden in the Cambridge colleges. And he's even more surprised that there's an attempt on her life. The same evening, another intelligent, ...more
Aug 12, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2019, library-book
First of a new series featuring DI Redfyre and set in Cambrifge in the 1920s. A young trumpeter falls on the stairs of a dark loft and its suspicious mainly because the trumpeter is female. Then another young woman is found dead in the river and it seems certain the two incidents are related.

The plot is sufficiently involved so as to be interesting without being so knotted as to get difficult to follow. Redfyre is a likable character as are the subordinate characters in the investigation. They
Ann Woodbury Moore
This British mystery set in 1923 has been touted as the "new" equivalent of Dorothy Sayers. It's definitely not. It has immense potential, but: it's far too wordy; there's way too much dialogue, along with endless, lengthy explanations; and the plot is overly complex, with too many characters to easily keep track of. I'll add some quotes from reviews that I agree with:
"Could have been cut by a quarter or third."
"Speechifying... goes on [and on and on]."
"Overwrought" writing.
The dialogue "just
I liked this book, but was slightly dry as far as explanations go. I felt like the pace was slightly off when the author was a little long-winded. I enjoyed the characters, and will try another in the series.
Jul 17, 2018 rated it liked it
More like 2.5 stars rounded to 3.
David Dunlap
Jun 28, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: did-not-finish
[stopped reading at page 110: really wanted to like this one, but...] In 1923 Cambridge, England, Detective Inspector John Redfyre is surprised to be given a ticket to a holiday trumpet-and-organ recital by his aunt Hester. He is even more surprised, upon arriving at the venue, to discover that the trumpet soloist is a female, Juno Proudfoot. He suspects his aunt of ulterior motives: Will there be a riot? Following the concert, Juno is injured, falling down the stairs from the chapel balcony: ...more
Oct 23, 2018 rated it really liked it
I haven't been able to get into the author's previous character, Joe Sandibanks, series, but the premise of this story and it being set locally grabbed me - and held me - through the entirety of this book.
1923, Inspector Redfyre is gifted tickets by his headstrong Aunt to a Christmas concert at St Barnabas College Chapel. The concert, being Cambridge, is a duet of church organ and trumpet which is safe enough - until the trumpet player is revealed as Juno Proudfoot, a beautiful and extremely
Jul 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
Love this, especially Redfyre’s voice and character. If you crossed Patrick Jane’s genius (the Mentalist) with Bertie Wooster’s class and terrifying relatives (Jeeves and Wooster)—and add in a mix of courage, wit, and snark—standing before you is John Redfyre.

The mystery of this was captivating and also believable. Everything was like a police procedural, ordered logically, and the ending (NO, no spoilers) connected all the threads more than so many other thriller/crime novels I’ve read in the
Oct 05, 2018 rated it did not like it
Much too wordy - the opening chapter should have made me realize this - however Barbara Cleverly's Joe Sandilands series is one of my favourites and I gave her the benefit of doubt with Fall of Angels.
I am disappointed and won't read another book in this series.
Nov 08, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Three and a half stars; I initially rounded it up to four to be generous. Then I had to round it down again because I was reminded of a quirk in the author's writing that sets my teeth on edge.

Though there's much to enjoy in this book, it doesn't come close to Sayers. The reason, honestly, is that I had no sense of the main character, John Redfyre. It's not just that I didn't know what he looked like (I'm fairly bare-bones with character description myself), it's that I didn't really know who
Aug 01, 2019 rated it liked it
England 1923: Detective Inspector John Redfyre is a godsend to the Cambridge CID. The ancient university city is at war with itself: town versus gown, male versus female, press versus the police force and everyone versus the undergraduates. Redfyre, young, handsome and capable, is a survivor of the Great War. Born and raised among the city’s colleges, he has access to the educated élite who run these institutions, a society previously deemed impenetrable by local law enforcement.

When Redfyre’s
Jul 16, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This book is of the genre: gross misuse of prepositions. As in, ‘women were not allowed to …” or “men would not permit women to …”. The grotesque exaggeration of social norms ruined what is an otherwise easy but trite read. (I love Ms. Cleverly’s Sandilands series).

This is part of a genre where only beautiful clever women deserve print space. The book is packed with women working for a living. Yet the premise is that if a woman has the audacity to work she will be murdered. I woke up when I
Feb 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Fans of erudite, but light-hearted, historical fiction
A new series by that Mistress of Ingenious Mystery: Barbara Cleverly! Folks, it just doesn't get any better! If I am strictly honest with myself, my rating would be a 4.5, for some crude situational dialog which I found to be very out of keeping with the time period of the book, the early 1920's. However, weighed in the balance against critical timing, elusive, (but present!) clues, and a fine perception both of human nature and of nature against human, I had to raise the rating to a ...more
Brian Williams
Jun 23, 2018 rated it liked it
This is a clever murder mystery set in 1923 post WW1 England. Inspector John Redfyre of the Cambridge CID has a front row seat on what appears to be an attempted murder. His investigation takes him into the ongoing friction between Cambridge's academics and the "townies", and eventually leads him to an ad hoc group of what today would be called feminists. After the attempted murder fails, two other bodies are found, victims of strangulation. With the help of his sergeant and under the watchful ...more
Nov 04, 2018 rated it liked it
Set in 1923 England, Detective Inspector Redfyre is caught in the middle of a determined group of British Suffragettes and an equally entrenched old guard determined to keep women “in their place.” To make things more difficult, Redfyre’s beloved Aunt Hetty is squarely with the young women seeking equality. Aunt Hetty gives her nephew a ticket to a Christmas Concert at St. Barnabas College where unbeknownst to him, a young woman trumpeter will perform. To the “old guard” women should not be ...more
Nov 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
Detective Inspector John Redfyre is with the Cambridge CID and is the hero of Barbara Cleverly's new series of crime novels. The year is 1923 and Redfyre, a World War I vet with a classical education, saves a young musician from a potentially fatal fall after a Christmas concert at St. Barnabas College. Just a few hours later, another young woman is found strangled on the edge of the Cambridge Common. At first, the connection between the two is not obvious, but when a third girl turns up dead, ...more
Mar 23, 2018 rated it liked it
A classic British whodunit set in 1923, between World Wars. Women are fighting for equal rights - a battle that is proving dangerous. Fortuitously, Inspector John Redfyre is in attendance when a female trumpeter is tripped and almost killed after a controversial performance at St. Barnabas College. When this is followed by a second attempt on her life and two actual murders, Redfyre races to sort through a basket of red herrings to find the misogynist killer before he strikes again. Cleverly ...more
Jul 05, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
Too wordy by half for my taste, and the word "jovial" kept coming to mind—odd for a murder mystery, serial murder no less. The post–World War I time frame invites comparisons to Charles Todd's Inspector Ian Rutledge and Jacqueline Winspear's Maisie Dobbs. Clearly this is meant to be lighter in tone, and it doesn't lack seriousness, but for some reason it fell flat with me.

One reason might be that I didn't find the plot plausible, which makes me wonder why, without experience or deep knowledge
May 14, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Note: I received a free ebook ARC from Soho Crime via NetGalley in exchange for a review.

At first look, this book ticks a lot of boxes for me: it's set in 1920's England, is a murder mystery, the storyline centers around a group of suffragettes. But the execution was poor and I'm kind of annoyed that I bothered to finish it so I could write a review. The protagonist, DI Redfyre, was given no personality and his backstory wasn't set up well at all. The writing was stultifying and hard to follow,
Oct 03, 2018 rated it liked it
I'm not a huge mystery reader, but I was intrigued by the New York Times Book Review description of this novel. I've spent a bit of time in Cambridge, where this series is set. I was intrigued by the idea of looking at police work after the Great War. It's a time period I don't know much about -- and this first book was really all about the work of suffragettes. I really liked our Detective Inspector Redfyre -- a veteran of both the war and the police force. Cleverly gave you enough clues to ...more
Oct 01, 2018 rated it liked it
I enjoyed the Sandiland novels, so I picked this up to see what it was about. I liked it, but I found it to be rather tedious at times. I enjoyed the period setting and thought it was well plotted. Sometimes the clever repartee was a bit boring even though it helped define the characters. Interestingly for me, although this book was about strong, creative, women who were plotting to advance women's rights, the men characters were better drawn. We knew and understood Redfyre and his colleagues ...more
Ruth Barrineau-brooks
Disappointing start to a new series

I loved Barbara Cleverly's Joe Sandilands series, so I was excited to read the first book in a new series. Inspector Redfyre is interesting but seems to lack the depth of Sandilands, and while Fall of Angels does have fascinating historical content and addresses an important societal issue, I thought it dragged in several places. I almost stopped reading it many times. I have greatly enjoyed Cleverly's books before, so I may give Inspector Redfyre another
Jul 05, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mystery
What a nice surprise! A brand new mystery series. What a treat! This one is set in Cambridge,England in 1923. Detective Inspector John Redfyre is young and unmarried. His aunt has set him up with a concert date with an old friend. At the end of the concert one of the performers has a near fatal accident. His investigation leads him to a world of feminine politics and intrigue. It was interesting hearing about the fight for rights even after voting rights were given. This should be an interesting ...more
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Madison Mega-Mara...: #115 - Fall of Angels 1 2 Jul 13, 2018 11:18AM  

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Barbara Cleverly was born in the north of England and is a graduate of Durham University. A former teacher, she has spent her working life in Cambridgeshire and Suffolk; she now lives in Cambridge. She has one son and five step-children.

Her Joe Sandilands series of books set against the background of the British Raj was inspired by the contents of a battered old tin trunk that she found in her

Other books in the series

Inspector Redfyre Mystery (2 books)
  • Invitation to Die (Inspector Redfyre Mystery, #2)
“All women become like their mothers.” 0 likes
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