In her debut novel, classics scholar Elizabeth Speller gives us an intelligent thriller and a detailed portrait of England in the shell-shocked years after the Great War. It is two years since Laurence Bartram came home from the front to an empty house, his wife and infant son having died while he was fighting. But he is brought back to life by a well-timed letter from an old flame. Mary Emmett asks Laurence to look into the death of her brother John, an old chum of his who was also an officer in the war, and who apparently killed himself while in the care of a remote veterans' hospital. Aided by his friend Charles—a dauntless gentleman with detective skills cadged from mystery novels—Laurence begins asking difficult questions. As veterans tied to Emmett continue to turn up dead, and Laurence is forced to unearth the darkest memories of his war experiences, he finds his own survival may depend on uncovering the truth.
"This fabulously enjoyable novel has absolutely everything.... Speller's writing is gorgeous, her research immaculate and very lightly worn. Sheer bliss."—Times (London)
"An involving and sensitively written examination of guilt and moral culpability: a fine achievement."—Independent (London)
"An absorbing mystery set in postwar London, Speller's literary debut is brimming with historical details of the period and doesn't shy away from war's atrocities. There are many references to British writers and poets that the average American reader may not be familiar with, and ... readers who like Jacqueline Winspear's Maisie Dobbs series will enjoy this as well."—Library Journal