In Farleigh Field by Rhys Bowen
Summary: Farleigh Place, the ancestral home of Lord Westerham and his five daughters, now also houses a division of British soldiers, changing the way they have to live. When a soldier with a failed parachute falls to his death on the estate, questions are raised and suspicions are aroused. The soldier’s uniform and possessions aren’t what they should be and MI5 operative and family friend, Ben Cresswell, is covertly tasked with determining if the soldier was 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 someone near to him has an appalling, history-altering agenda. Can he and Pamela stop them before England falls?
Review: For me, this was an interesting glimpse into World War II from the British perspective. While it’s focus was primarily on the upper-crust, it also included a number of everyday citizens, since the setting was mainly the estate of Farleigh Field and the nearby village and neighboring estates.
The writing evoked Britain in each word and action; yet, as an American, I had no difficulty understanding and empathizing with the characters and their plight. It was an engaging story with well-developed characters. The author has an easy voice to listen to and a warm, welcoming writing style.
Although, the story read more like a mystery novel rather than an action/adventure spy novel, I was fine with that. It was moderately paced, with enough clues and romance sprinkled throughout to keep me intrigued and satisfied.
There were no major twists or surprises, but there were some interesting insights into history that I had never considered or known before. For example, when reading about the intense darkness that several of his characters encountered when trying to walk to their home at night, I wondered why they just didn’t use a flashlight. The author, evidently anticipating such questions, explained that using any type of light was banned, because it could be used by German bombers as a target. However, some of the characters did use flashlights with black filters or clothes over the lenses. It was these types of details that truly brought life to the story.
The only downside to this book was that I wanted a second one. Several of the secondary characters had story lines that could (to my mind) be broken out and turned into books, and I would welcome the chance to read them.
So, if you’re looking for a pleasant, well-written, historical mystery to read, this is a good choice.