Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Rich characters, good story, WWII brought to life
Cons: It ended
The Bottom Line:
Gateway to World War II trip
Via this great book
Is the Body a Dead Spy?
One of my go to authors is Rhys Bowen; I know I will not be disappointed with her books. So when I learned she was releasing In Farleigh Field, a standalone novel, getting it wasn’t even a question in my mind. The fact that it was set in World War II, a period of history I enjoy, was just an added bonus.
It is May 1941 in the village of Elmsleigh in England. While they are not living with the nightly bombing raids like they do in London, everyone is feeling the effects of the war in one way or the other. However, when two children in the area discover a dead body, it is a shock to all. The dead man quite obviously died when his parachute failed to open. He’s wearing the uniform of the squadron being housed nearby, but none of those soldiers are missing. And none of them would be parachuting.
Ben Cresswell is called in to investigate. While he’s been working for MI5, this is his first real chance to prove himself, something he doesn’t want to blow. He is given this case since he is from Elmsleigh, and the higher ups are hoping that his knowledge of the area will help him. The theory is that the dead man is a German who was supposed to parachute into the area to meet a German sympathizer. But these are Ben’s friends and neighbors he is looking at. Is there a plot afoot? Can he find the enemy from among these people he knows so well?
I’ve actually simplified the plot a bit in my teaser. It is a wide ranging story that incorporates the code breakers at Bletchley Park as well as action in occupied Paris before things are done. At times, it felt like the plot was wandering a bit, but it all comes into play before the story is over. The climax is a page turner with a surprise or two as well.
The real star here is the setting. You will be transported back to another time and place in these pages. It was a great look at life on the home front during a very difficult time in history, and it makes me appreciate the sacrifices that everyone made to defeat evil.
Because of the sweeping nature of the story, we have multiple third person point of view characters. It’s always easy to follow whose head we are in, and technique really helps bring the story to life since it really does cover so much ground.
This also helps us get to know the characters better, not only the viewpoint characters, but also the secondary characters as we get different views of some of them depending on who the viewpoint character of the scene is. I was a bit worried since we had a list of characters at the beginning of the book. Sometimes, that means there are so many characters thrown at us so quickly that it’s hard to keep track of them all. I never once had to refer to that list as I was reading. Everyone was so distinct and crisp they all stood out in my mind.
As far as I know, this is still intended to be a standalone, however with how this book ends I certainly see the possibility of more stories with these characters, and I wouldn’t complain if Rhys Bowen decided to revisit them in the future.
Honestly, I can’t say enough good things about this book. In Farleigh Field will propel you back in time and get you caught up in the lives of wonderful characters as they work to unravel a plot. You won’t want to put it down until you reach the end. So be sure to pick it up today.