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For fans of The Crown comes an enthralling historical mystery set during the Second World War
It is 1940 and the bombs are falling thick and fast on London. The royal family must do all they can to assure the British public of their solidarity. But what of the two young princesses - Elizabeth and Margaret? How can they be kept safe without jeopardizing morale in the capital?
Meanwhile Celia Nashe is delighted when she finally gets her long-awaited transfer to MI5. But whatever she was expecting of her mission for the war effort, it wasn't this. A crumbling castle in remote, rural Ireland, playing nursemaid to two pampered young girls.
But her posting soon turns out to be very far from tame. Questions are being asked by the locals about the identities of Celia's secret charges. And when a dead body turns up at the castle gates, it will take every effort to uncover the truth, and to stop it from coming to light.
'Elegant and witty. Fans of The Crown will enjoy this playful novel' Times
'Brilliantly entertaining' Irish Times
'Black is a master of high-class crime fiction' Guardian
An intriguing premise can't save this plodding what-if historical thriller from Edgar-finalist Black (Wolf on a String), the pen name of John Banville. During the Battle of Britain, with London under steady assault from German bombers, George VI decides that his daughters, 14-year-old Elizabeth and 10-year-old Margaret, should be moved from Buckingham Palace to a place of safety. The princesses are transported in the dead of night to the neutral Republic of Ireland, where they are to live, under pseudonyms, at the Duke of Edenmore's isolated estate in County Tipperary. In exchange for that accommodation, Britain will supply Ireland with regular shipments of coal. An MI5 agent, Celia Nashe, who's charged with their protection, accompanies them. Though the identities of the girls is a closely guarded secret, Celia fears that the truth will be uncovered, placing them in peril from Irish nationalists eager to score a major propaganda coup by attacking or abducting them. A romantic subplot involving Celia fails to engage, and the anticlimactic ending disappoints. Fans of this gifted writer will hope for better next time.