I’ve been a fan of Rhys Bowen since I read the first Molly Murphy mystery, set in turn of the century New York City, and the Royal Spyness series, set in England, love all the characters and the creative stories. I have not read her Constable Evans series they are on my TBR list. So, needless to say, I was intrigued when I learned that Ms. Bowen was doing a “stand alone” book, In Farleigh Field. For some unknown reason, I got an advance copy on my Kindle app on my iPhone (which, by the way, I only use when I travel or have time before classes at Columbia). I must say it is most certainly in Ms. Bowen’s style of writing, which I really adore. I have read other favorite authors books off their usual series and haven’t liked them as much as their “main” books. This proves to be the exception…I really, really enjoyed it. By now you all know I love a good English mystery along the lines of an Agatha Christie, a “cozy” once in a while but nothing too sinister nor “scary”. This is certainly not a “cozy” it is a most enjoyable read.
World War II is the setting and we find our characters, who come from the English countryside, either working in British Intelligence, the Bletchley Circle or in the RAF along with the gentry and their staffs. The main female character, Pamela, is one of five daughters of Lord Westerham, one of whom works in Paris for a couturier fashioned (pardon the pun) after Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel complete with her association with the Gestapo and the British aristocracy and who lives at the Ritz (right up my alley!). The main characters have grown up together so there is definitely history between them. Two are from the landed gentry and one is the son of the local vicar. At the beginning of the story, a man’s body is found, by the youngest daughter, on the grounds of our protagonist’s family home. He is in the uniform of a group of soldiers (which proves to be false) that are billeted at the Manor House and has fallen to earth and killed when his parachute has failed to open. Why is he there, is he a spy, why would he be in the countryside? Many questions appear before they are solved. We, of course, have a romance (actually a romantic triangle) secrets revealed, and interesting characters that are true to the time of the story. I truly found it to hold my interest and to be a good read. Let’s hope for more “stand alone” books from Ms. Bowen along with more of Molly Murphy and Lady Georgiana. In my opinion, she is a superb author who thoroughly researches her material and who gets us involved in the story from page one and keeps us until the final sentence.
From the Publishers:
“World War II comes to Farleigh Place, the ancestral home of Lord Westerham and his five daughters, when a soldier with a failed parachute falls to his death on the estate. After his uniform and possessions raise suspicions, MI5 operative and family friend Ben Cresswell is covertly tasked with determining if the man is a German spy. The assignment also offers Ben the chance to be near Lord Westerham’s middle daughter, Pamela, whom he furtively loves. But Pamela has her own secret: she has taken a job at Bletchley Park, the British code-breaking facility.
As Ben follows a trail of spies and traitors, which may include another member of Pamela’s family, he discovers that some within the realm have an appalling, history-altering agenda. Can he, with Pamela’s help, stop them before England falls?
Inspired by the events and people of World War II, writer Rhys Bowen crafts a sweeping and riveting saga of class, family, love, and betrayal.”
Rhys’s next Royal Spyness book, On Her Majesty’s Frightfully Secret Service, will be published on Aug. 1, 2017.
The next Molly Murphy book, The Ghost of Christmas Past, will be published on Nov. 14, 2017.
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