1949. A murder occurs at a weekend house party. Sounds like an Agatha Christie novel, right?
Wrong. This isn't the 1949 we're familiar with -- the people at the house party belong to the 'Farthing set', the political group that overthrew Churchill in 1941 and made peace with Hitler. When a prominent member of the set is found murdered, a dagger pinning a yellow star to his chest, suspicion immediately falls on the one Jewish man at the party.
From the very beginning, it's clear that David Kahn is being framed. Well, it's clear to David, of course; to Lucy, his wife (who is the daughter of two members of the Farthing set); and it's clear to Inspector Carmichael. But whether or not anyone can prove his innocence is questionable, because of the anti-Jewish sentiment in England and because the murder may have more far-reaching political implications than any of our heroes imagine...
But anyway, when I heard that Sir James Thirkie had been murdered, that's the first thing I thought of, Angela Thirkie being mean to David the afternoon before, and I'm afraid the first thing to go through my mind, although fortunately I managed to catch the train before it got out of the tunnel that time so I didn't say so, was that it well and truly served her right.
You can hear her, right? I hope so.
Lucy narrates the odd-numbered chapters, while the even-numbered chapters follow Inspector Carmichael. I loved it that I was able to follow the investigation and larger political situation from both viewpoints -- that I knew the bits that Lucy knew that Inspector Carmichael didn't and vice-versa -- but that I was still surprised again and again. And I loved how the book began as a simple murder mystery but evolved into something much more. I'm so very much looking forward to the sequel -- and then, to the third book!
Okay. I'm not going to go on and on. I loved it, the end. Just know that there's a blurb from Ursula K. Le Guin on the front cover and that the author thanks Dorothy Sayers, Josephine Tey and Peter Dickinson in the Acknowledgments. How could you possibly go wrong?