John Lawton, April 2018, 352 pages, Grove Press, ISBN: 1611856221
Reviewed by Terry Halligan.
(Read more of Terry's reviews for Euro Crime here.)
It is 1958. Chief Superintendent Frederick Troy of Scotland Yard, newly promoted after good service during Nikita Khrushchev's visit to Britain, is not looking forward to a Continental trip with his older brother, Rod. Rod was too vain to celebrate being fifty so instead takes his entire family on 'the Grand Tour' for his fifty-first birthday: Paris, Sienna, Florence, Vienna, Amsterdam. Restaurants, galleries and concert halls. But Frederick Troy never gets to Amsterdam.
After a concert in Vienna he is approached by an old friend whom he has not seen for years - Guy Burgess, a spy for the Soviets, who says something extraordinary: 'I want to come home.' Troy dumps the problem on MI5 who send an agent to de-brief Burgess - but the man is gunned down only yards from the embassy, and after that, the whole plan unravels with alarming speed and Troy finds himself a suspect.
As he fights to prove his innocence, Troy finds that Burgess is not the only ghost who returns to haunt him.
This book is a very clever merger of fact and fiction, spread over a long period of time, when we first meet Frederick Troy he is contemplating going into the 'Police' and by the end of the book he is a Chief Superintendent at Scotland Yard. It chiefly details the contact that Troy has over the years with Guy Burgess and his fellow espionage contacts.
I have read almost all of the historical mystery books by John Lawton and my only complaint is that he is just not prolific enough! I appreciate that he writes a lot for TV but to write only eight Inspector Troy books and three others, that is just not good enough. So please John I do hope you write a lot more. Strongly recommended.
Terry Halligan, April 2018.