From Canada's premier author of historical mysteries, Maureen Jennings, comes the haunting fourth novel in the DI Tom Tyler series. Set in Britain during the darkest days of World War II, this is a must-read for fans of Foyle's War, Jacqueline Winspear's Maisie Dobbs series, and wartime dramas.
It's late 1942; the war is still raging and the upcoming Christmas season looks bleak. Detective Inspector Tom Tyler is settling into his placement in Ludlow, Shropshire, a small town jammed with people sent there by the conflict. On the outskirts is an Italian PoW camp and many PoWs work on local farms where manpower is sorely needed. Fraternizing is forbidden but, as Tyler knows only too well, the human heart has a way of crossing boundaries.
Tyler's job is both to keep the peace and to enforce wartime regulations. Magistrate's court is busy. Then a troubled old man goes missing in a winter storm. The next day his body is discovered in a secret hideout supposedly known to very few. It soon becomes clear that a crime has been committed, and there is no shortage of suspects. Tyler senses that the two evacuee children who found the body are not telling the entire truth, but when he goes to question them further, he learns they have taken off from their foster home. It becomes imperative that he find them.
Showcasing her characteristic masterful storytelling and deep empathy for her characters -- from the bravest and most blameless to the profoundly troubled -- Jennings has created another outstanding novel that is both a page-turning mystery and a rich, satisfying reading experience.
The intriguing fourth book (following No Known Grave) in Jennings's WWII era series featuring the gentle, observant Det. Insp. Tom Tyler, a Shropshire policeman, surprisingly opens with a 1643 scene from the English Civil War. An emissary for Oliver Cromwell's Roundheads, hotly pursued by King Charles's Cavaliers, buries a small sack of gold and silver coins just before he is killed. Jennings then takes readers to 1942, when a befuddled old man unearths the long-lost coins and is soon after found dead. Tyler wants to question the two children who found his body, but the case gets more complicated when they go missing. The coins profoundly change the lives of all who come into contact with them, bringing violent death, destroying relationships, and highlighting all that is worst in human nature. Jennings vividly and authentically portrays a world of "land girls" (women who worked in agriculture to replace men who'd joined the military), war orphans, internment camps, soldiers (many of them injured and traumatized), and the ghosts of wars past. This is an insightful character-centric narrative that displays a sensitive understanding of human foibles, as well as delivering a satisfying puzzle.