In Farleigh Field

In Farleigh FieldIn Farleigh Field by Rhys Bowen
Genres: Historical, Mystery
Published by Lake Union on March 1, 2017
Pages: 396

 

Publisher’s Summary

World War II comes to Farleigh Place, the ancestral home of Lord Westerham and his five daughters, when a soldier with a failed parachute falls to his death on the estate. After his uniform and possessions raise suspicions, MI5 operative and family friend Ben Cresswell is covertly tasked with determining if the man is a German spy. The assignment also offers Ben the chance to be near Lord Westerham’s middle daughter, Pamela, whom he furtively loves. But Pamela has her own secret: she has taken a job at Bletchley Park, the British code-breaking facility.

As Ben follows a trail of spies and traitors, which may include another member of Pamela’s family, he discovers that some within the realm have an appalling, history-altering agenda. Can he, with Pamela’s help, stop them before England falls?

Inspired by the events and people of World War II, writer Rhys Bowen crafts a sweeping and riveting saga of class, family, love, and betrayal.

Rhys Bowen has penned an entertaining World War II mystery with In Farleigh Field. Taking a look at relatively average people, in this case Lady Pamela Westerham and a vicar’s son, Ben Cresswell, this story covers their covert work with MI5 and code-breaking at Bletchley Park. From dank living conditions to missions they cannot share with even their closest relatives, the story gives a close up view of what it might have been like to serve in lowly but classified positions during the war, as well as live in and operate out of a top-secret facility such as Bletchley Park.

From dank living conditions to missions they cannot share with even their closest relatives, the story gives a close up view of what it might have been like to serve in lowly but classified positions during the war, as well as live in and operate out of a top-secret facility such as Bletchley Park.

For Pamela, living a Bletchley Park is certain different from her upbringing at Farleigh. This story and her character in particular highlight how the war created opportunity and even the need for women to do tasks that might have usually fallen on men. Since neither Pamela nor Ben can share what they are doing with their families, there is an added layer of intrigue as well as a few mishaps and a bit of humor when they must explain away things that seem odd to those around them.

While there is a rather large cast of characters, I never felt like it was hard to keep track of everyone. Bowen provides a full listing of characters in the beginning of the book, which led me to think that I might be flipping back and forth to keep tabs on them all, but honestly, I never felt the need to do that. She introduces them in such a way that it’s easy to figure out who is who and where to place them in the story. While some of the characters might be a tad stereotypical, I also think much of it is purposeful – it seems to give a nod to other stories with the slightly pompous Lord of the manor, the slightly clueless wife, the precocious youngest sibling who manages to get into all sorts of things without the adults noticing. I also liked how no character was safe form suspicion or scrutiny, and it isn’t entirely obvious until well into the story just who Pamela and Ben should have been watching out for the entire time.

I also liked how no character was safe form suspicion or scrutiny, and it isn’t entirely obvious until well into the story just who Pamela and Ben should have been watching out for the entire time.

The plot never drags, making the story a quick one to read, but no less pleasurable. The romantic plotline is somewhat predictable, but altogether charming and never takes away from the main plot of mystery. I like how the story focuses the mission was at home rather than abroad, although it was interesting to see what life was like for an Englishwoman with connections to the Resistance, living in France at the time. In this case, it is one of the older Westerham daughters, Margo, living in Paris to study fashion before the war broke out. The drama of the open surveillance by Nazi officers was both chilling and heart-stopping, made even more so because the reader knows what is going on while the family in Farleigh remains oblivious to just how deeply two of their daughters are into the intrigue and danger.

The drama of the open surveillance by Nazi officers was both chilling and heart-stopping.

I’m not sure if Rhys Bowen will be writing any more standalone novels, but if she does, her next one will definitely be going on my to-read list. Pick up In Farleigh Field if you’re looking for an intriguing, entertaining whodunit with a bit of romantic thread for good measure.

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