18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars
Unusual mystery, 29 Nov. 2006
The best of the Sandilands so far. Unusual mystery in an unusual setting. I had no idea about the battle of the Chemin des Dames, I didn't know much about Champagne, the region. Ms Cleverly defies the rules of the mystery novel - the detective is assigned the problem of working out the mystery of a man who is still alive, not yet a corpse. The answer to the puzzle is fundamental to the plot but it's not long before Sandilands tracks down a body cleverly hidden. As usual I didn't guess the ending but when I read it I knew there could be no other. You have to hang on right until the last sentence before you know the full story but it's a satisfying end. It's not a question of `eeny-meeny-miney-mo' like in some mysteries. The answer always comes from the character of the people involved and the clues are there all the way through the book, though you don't realise until all the evidence is in. The detective, Joe Sandilands, is always one step ahead of the reader and arrives at his solution with the help of an unusual sidekick. His young niece is as intuitive and resourceful as he is - she's no Doctor Watson, just a sounding board - but adds quite a lot to the action and the interest of the book. Through her fresh eyes we catch a glimpse of a war-torn France, pulling itself back together, licking its wounds and re-asserting its Frenchness.