Dan Holloway’s Oxford-based thriller ‘The Company of Fellows’ is a bit more than just a murder mystery. It delves into the psychology not only of the principal players in the drama but into the psyche of the city of Oxford itself.
The main character, Tommy West, lost his opportunity to become an academic because of his unstable mental health. When he is drawn into investigating the circumstances of the death of his mentor, Professor Shaw, he is forced to open old wounds not just for himself but for others which threatens the precarious balance of his own personality.
The stories of the various characters in this book are revealed slowly as they deal with this crisis in their lives. There’s Emily, Tommy’s long-lost love who is now a cop; Professor Shaw’s daughter Becky, who draws Tommy into his quest; Professor Shaw’s enigmatic wife and a number of erstwhile colleagues. As Tommy follows a murky trail the situation becomes darker and more dangerous. Some of what he learns about the people he has known for years is shocking and it’s all Tommy can do to keep his head from unravelling.
One of the things that really drew me into this book is the detail. Oxford itself is a character in this story. You can tell the author knows the place, knows its nuances, its airs and graces and its seamier side. Then there’s the meticulous description of cooking a grouse, stories about wine (posh wine, as the author has averred) which is bound up into Tommy’s personality as he concentrates on the task at hand to keep the hounds of insanity at bay.
The reader is kept guessing through a series of twists and turns throughout the book. The tension builds inexorably so you have to keep reading to find out what happens next.
I really enjoyed the book. I expect I’ll read it again. The book is available on Amazon.