It is 1939 and the country is on the brink of World War II. Verity Browne is engaged to Lord Edward Corinth and is wavering in her lifetime of support for the Communist Party. Edward has been tasked with trying to find out who is planning to assassinate Winston Churchill. Joseph Kennedy, American Ambassador to the UK, and his charismatic family appear in the story.
Verity wants to interview Kennedy as part of her job as a journalist and has also been instructed to get close to him by her Communist Party boss, David Griffiths-Jones; Edward wants to find out whether the assassin is a member of the embassy staff. Both are invited as guests to Cliveden - the home of the Astors - which is where the trouble begins.
The book has realistic characters and dialogue which brings the late 1930s vividly to life. I found all the background information about the politics of the time interesting as well as Verity's struggle with her conscience. I thought the previous book in this series - 'Something Wicked' - was not as good as previous volumes, but this one is well up to standard and I enjoyed reading it. I am looking forward to reading the latest one - 'Sweet Sorrow'. If you want crime novels which are reminiscent of the Golden Age of detective fiction then you will probably enjoy this series.
Verity and Edward are an engaged couple, with rather different backgrounds and differing political views. Verity is a paid up member of the Communist Party, Edward a Lord and aristocrat. But love conquers all they say and theirs is going to be an interesting marriage if they ever get there.
Edward has previously done some work for the government, the secret service, and he is called upon again when it looks like there is a threat made on the life of Winston Churchill. They believe that it may have something to do with the American Ambassador, a Joseph Kennedy. Can Edward gain any knowledge from the American if he meets him?
Verity, a journalist and rather doubting the ways that the communist party are going, also wants to meet Joseph Kennedy, to get an interview would be a coup. Especially as he is rather aghast that the Briton's think they will win any sort of fight with the Germans.
When both Edward and Verity get the chance to go to Cliveden, home of the Astor's and also where Kennedy is staying , they think they may well be able to get to the bottom of everything that is going on....but then a dead body turns up.....and he had previously been to see Verity, but she had dismissed his accusations as nonsense....but perhaps he was right.
And so a murder mystery story with two rather interesting characters with forthright opinions and their own plan in life investigate this murder in 1939, where Hitler is moving fast and forward in his plan and the Italian Fascists, the communists and even the Irish dissenters all play some sort of part. This was a very interesting read and at times I felt I was reading something much more than what could be described by some no doubt as cosy mystery. This was more like a history book made accessible to the masses with some interesting twists and turns and the inevitable red herring or two. If you like murder mystery with more of an actual place and time then I think this series of books is ideal reading.
on 7 March 2014
This whodunit, set in the build up to the 2nd World War in Europe, evokes the anxiety and indecision of the time, as well as having an unusual sleuthing combination of an aristocrat and a Communist. The treachery of political ambition and the inequalities of the time are well described, and there is enough detective activity to keep any crime addict happy, I would have thought. No blood and guts, rather a story in which a death or two are explained against a backdrop of imminent war. I have read all of David Roberts' books up to this one in the series, and they have improved steadily from a good start as the characters have become more developed.