February, 1939. Edward and Verity are invited to Clivenden in Buckinghamshire, renowned as the headquarters of those prepared to go to any lengths to avert war. Murder stalks the formal gardens as private and public passions come to a climax.
A foreign plot to assassinate Winston Churchill drives Roberts's disappointing ninth mystery to feature Lord Edward Corinth and journalist Verity Brown (after 2007's Something Wicked). In early 1939, MI5 sends jaded aristocrat Corinth to Cliveden, the Astor estate in Buckinghamshire that's headquarters for those who support appeasing Hitler, to investigate the threat. Corinth's fiancee, the Communist-leaning Brown, is also visiting the estate, where she's trying to cultivate Joseph Kennedy, the U.S. ambassador to Britain. A string of murders that appear to be related to Kennedy provides the couple with a more conventional case to pursue. Unlike, say, Jack Higgins in The Eagle Has Landed(about a German scheme to kidnap Churchill during WWII), Roberts fails to compensate for the assassination attempt's inherent lack of suspense with enough else of sufficient interest. Some readers may find the historical detail that lends credibility to other books in the series less convincing in this latest entry. (Feb.)
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January 31, 2009
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