Book: A Matter of Loyalty (A very English Murder Mystery Book 3)
Author: Anslem Audley, Elizabeth Edmondsen
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer (October 19, 2017)
“January 1954. Mists cover the hills around Selchester. Someone at the research facility known as the Atomic is leaking secrets to Soviet Russia, and when nuclear scientist Bruno Rothesay goes missing, the British Intelligence Services are convinced he’s the mole. Hugo Hawksworth isn’t so sure. Then a body turns up, and Hugo’s instincts are proven correct. But if Rothesay wasn’t selling secrets to the Soviets, who is?
As Hugo digs deeper into buried connections and unlikely coincidences, he knows there’s more to this case than his London superiors believe. But following his instincts will pit him against the Establishment—and tangle him once again in the poisonous legacy of the late Lord Selchester.
As he closes in on the truth, Hugo finds himself confronted by an adversary who will stop at nothing, in a case that will prove the most personal of his career.
With a touch of Downton Abbey, a whisper of Agatha Christie and a nod to John Le Carré, A Matter Of Loyalty is the third and final book in this delightfully classic and witty murder-mystery series.” ~ blurb
I have difficulty in finding the right genre for this book – it’s definitely of the “cosy” variety but the murder mystery is set in the backdrop of the immediately post-war period in Britain. The setting for this (and the previous two books in the series) is a rural town that is home to obscure parts of the British intelligence service.
The story is told in the omniscient point if view which was in keeping with the context and setting of the novel. The drawback was that I felt like I didn’t have much insight into the characters’ inner worlds. This was, to some extent, in keeping with the theme of the novel which looked into the exploration of finding “the truth” both in terms of the mystery and personally.
Elizabeth Edmondsen died before this book was completed. The bulk of the writing in this book was done from her notes by her son, Ansell Audley. This accounts for the subtle changes in writing style between this book and the previous two. The most notable difference, I felt, was more reference to what would be in a contemporary novel be “corporate politics”. It also impacted the pacing of the book towards the end where some over-explaining slowed the pace of the book and didn’t do much to further the plot. In particular a new character, a Hungarian Scientist, joined the cast and played the role of a truth teller or moral guide. I felt that this char act wasn’t needed. In the previous two novels this role has been taken on by the child Georgia admirably and by bringing in the new character, I felt that her character had been downgraded to the “female in need of help” cliché.
The plot revolves around the murder of a scientist and a nearby atomic facility at a time. Hugo Hawksworth, initially tasked with background checks related to a suspect intelligence leak at the facility becomes embroiled in the affair when he believes that the wrong man has been charged with the murder. Overcoming professional and personal pressure, Hugo sets out to find the real murderer and the leak.
I didn’t enjoy tis book as much as the previous two in the series. Having said that it was an enjoyable enough light read. I think of it as beach Le Carre.