Saturday, September 7, 2013


London, 1920. In the aftermath of the Great War and a devastating family tragedy, Laurence Bartram has turned his back on the world. But with a well-timed letter, an old flame manages to draw him back in. Mary Emmett’s brother John—like Laurence, an officer during the war—has apparently killed himself while in the care of a remote veterans’ hospital, and Mary needs to know why.
Aided by his friend Charles—a dauntless gentleman with detective skills cadged from mystery novels—Laurence begins asking difficult questions. What connects a group of war poets, a bitter feud within Emmett’s regiment, and a hidden love affair? Was Emmett’s death really a suicide, or the missing piece in a puzzling series of murders? As veterans tied to Emmett continue to turn up dead, and Laurence is forced to face the darkest corners of his war experiences, his own survival may depend on uncovering the truth.
This could almost be labeled amateur sleuth, but it doesn't have the same feel as others I've read. It felt more like historical mystery along the lines of Maisie Dobbs, written by Jacqueline Winspear. That may only be because of the time the book is set, after WWI.
Soldiers have come home from the war in various states of wellness or injury. This is also a view of the class system in England and the changes that were occurring.
Laurence Bartram is at odds with his life. He's home from the war, his wife and child died while he was fighting. He has enough money to set aside to live reasonably well without having to immediately find a job. He's writing a book about the architecture of the churches in England. Then he hears from the sister of an old schoolmate. Mary wants Laurence to find out why her brother committed suicide. He came home mentally exhausted from the war, but was doing so much better at the convalescent home where he was recovering. Then Emmett's body is found, dead from what looks to be a self-inflicted wound.
Mary thinks that Laurence must have been closer to him than she. Added to the fact that they both fought in the war, maybe Laurence has insight into what might have caused the death.
Laurence and his friend Charles proceed to investigate, finding out more than they originally imagined would be the story.
There's human greed and pettiness causing more grief and death even among the allies.
I loved this slow moving book. I immediately bought the second in the series and I can't wait to read the next.

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