The sudden death of Guy Brouard after his morning swim shocks the residents of Guernsey. Brouard has been a generous patron and benefactor of the island since his arrival there a decade ago, and his demise puts a question mark over many cherished projects.
When a young American woman is charged with the murder, her brother seeks help from the only contact he has in the UK - Deborah St James. Deborah is horrified to find that her old friend has been arrested and persuades her husband Simon to accompany her to Guernsey to avert this miscarriage of justice.
What they find on that beautiful island is a tangled web of deceit and betrayal, with its origins in wartime occupation. In solving the crime, they must rely on their long-standing friendship with Inspector Thomas Lynley; they must also learn painful lessons about loyalty and trust, and the loving tyranny of family ties.
Fans disappointed by George's atypical story collection, I, Richard (2002), will be relieved to find the bestselling transatlantic author back at the top of her form. This exquisitely plotted mystery bursts with well-developed characters, notably forensic scientist Simon St. James and his photographer wife, Deborah. Lured by the free airline tickets and the $5,000 fee, China River, an old friend of Deborah's, and her half-brother, Cherokee (their mother was into the hippie counterculture), agree to fly from sunny California to rainy England to deliver a package containing architectural drawings to Guy Brouard, a rich landholder on the Channel island of Guernsey. The drawings are for a museum Brouard plans to build on the island honoring those who resisted the WWII German occupation. When the philandering philanthropist gets murdered and the police arrest China, Cherokee turns to Simon and Deborah for help. Curiously, for all the victim's wealth, no one seems to benefit from his death. The theme of hiding of hopes, of the past, of secret places underpins this intricate story about friendship, anger, loyalty and betrayal. Comic touches provide some relief as the suspense builds to an unexpected and explosive climax. With her flair for language, George reinforces her reputation as one of today's finest mystery writers.