In the late summer of 1941, as the war deepens, Detective Chief Inspector Thomas Lamb must risk his life to sort out the links between a series of killings—past and present—in a Hampshire village brimming with buried secrets.
In the late summer of 1941, as the war in Europe drags on, long-buried secrets begin to surface in the Hampshire village of Winstead, when the body of a young woman – a former conscientious objector - is found shot to death in the church cemetery. The woman’s only connection to Winstead seems to be that she lately had joined a group of conscripted workers who are building a prisoner of war camp on an abandoned farm near the village. But Detective Chief Inspector Thomas Lamb, who is called in to solve the case, has his doubts.
The mystery deepens when workers at the farm find the remains of a child in the foundation of the old farmhouse, and a tramp who had been squatting in the wood near the church turns up dead. Lamb soon begins to suspect that the crimes might be related to a tragic event that occurred in Winstead more than twenty years earlier – the suicide of a village woman who took her life in despair after her husband abandoned her and took their young twin sons with him. As Lamb pieces together the connections between the crimes, he draws closer to the source of evil in Winstead’s past and present and, in the end, must risk his own life to uncover the truth.
Set in 1942, Kelly's pleasantly baffling second whodunit featuring Det. Chief Insp. Thomas Lamb of the Hampshire Constabulary fulfills the promise of 2015's The Language of the Dead. When the Rev. Gerald Wimberly finds a corpse in the cemetery adjoining his church in the village of Winstead, he alerts the police. The victim is identified as conscientious objector Ruth Aisquith, a member of the Women's Land Army. She was shot in the back and left facedown next to a grave. After Lamb interviews the oily Wimberly and his wife, Wilhemina, who are both less than forthcoming about what happened, he quickly gets a sense that solving the murder will be tricky. When a man working on the site of a new POW camp unearths a skull, the case takes a different turn, raising speculation that Aisquith's death is related to an older crime. Fans of the TV series Foyle's War, which similarly addresses the role of the police during WWII, will be pleased.