Auntie M has been reading several series in order, and today she’s talking about Clare Chase, whose Tara Thorpe series is set in Cambridge.

Murder on the Marshes introduces Tara, a Cambridge journalist who is investigating the death of a young woman found in the fountain of one of Cambridge’s college courtyards.

When Tara learns the woman had been receiving death threats, she can’t help but flash on the one that was left on her own doorstep the night this woman died.

Her personal interest in the case catches the attention of DI Garstin Blake, and he reluctantly comes to see that her journalistic nose has its advantages, as she interviews what they both feel are potential suspects. But Tara’s past experience with police has left her wary of police in general.

Refusing to acknowledge the pull she feels toward the married Blake, Tara doesn’t share the secret in her past that might have bearing on the case, even as they get closer and closer to the killer.

Death on the River opens a few years later, when Tara has left journalism and entered the police force. Only a few weeks into her position as a DC in Cambridge, she is shocked one night to find a woman on the doorstep of her isolated fens cottage. Dr. Monica Cairncross begs Tara to investigate the death of her brother, Ralph.

It’s been deemed an accident, but Tara’s immediate supervisor, DS Wilkins, has little time for Tara’s efforts to find out about the accident and if there was any possibility it could have been murder. But going behind Wilkin’s back, Tara finds out Ralph Cairncross had an earlier accident with the wiring on a faulty lamp that almost killed him.

Butting heads with her DS isn’t missed by their boss, DI Blake, who is determined to give Tara the chance she deserves in his team, despite the misgivings of Wilkins. Just how far will her DS go to scupper Tara? Then a second body is found, and it becomes clear someone has murder on their mind.

With Death Comes to Call, Tara’s newest case revolves around the disappearance of local painter Luke Cope. Inspecting his paintings, Tara is alarmed to see one of a pretty woman with a man’s hands around her throat.

She’s at a loss, until the body of a young woman is found on a nature preserve, left overnight. The dead woman is Freya Cross, an art gallery employee who modeled for Cope and is the woman from the painting. Is life imitating art?

Tara investigates, sometimes using unusual methods she’s fond of from her journalism days. There have been changes to Blake’s team, too, that effect their working. As Tara and the team investigate both Freya’s husband and stepson, there are other forces at work trying to destroy the new detective constable.

Murder in the Fens brings Tara and her team to the body of a young woman found on the edge of the fens, her pockets stuffed full of dead flowers. Was this an affair gone wrong, a crime of passion, or something more?

Searching the young student’s room, Tara finds what turns out to be a rare family heirloom hidden among her things. What was smart Julie Cooper doing with something valuable that belongs to the family of the master at her college?

Was this simple theft, or the hint of something much more? And how far back in time will Tara have to look to find the threads of what is at the heart of this death?

With team changes come a new detective who seems too good to be true, but at least Tara isn’t the lowest in the pecking order. Her tense relationship with DI Blake takes an unexpected turn in this one.

The mystery is solved in each one, so the books don’t strictly have to be read in order, but there was an undeniable pleasure in watching the progression of the relationships Tara has, first as a journalist, and then as a young detective with the various members of her team.

She has her own past, a complicated family situation, and support in odd corners, but it all works and makes her an interesting and strong young woman, whose sense of determination sometimes gets in the way of being a team player, something she must learn.

Chase does a good job, too, exploring Cambridge as a setting, bringing the ancient city and its many colleges to life, as well as the stark fens countryside.

All in all, it’s a satisfying series and Auntie M is looking forward to Tara Thorpe’s next case.