Rhys Bowen Breaks Down Social Barriers ‘In Farleigh Field’ [REVIEW]
March 20, 2017 1 Comment
Spies. British aristocracy. A dead body. A love triangle. Rhys Bowen’s new World War II thriller, In Farleigh Field, has it all in spades, making for a truly delicious stand-alone novel that will delight fans of Masterpiece Theater’s Home Fires and Downton Abbey.
The Sutton family, led by the Earl of Westerham Roderick Sutton, has lived at Farleigh Place in Kent for ages. Before the war, they spent lazy afternoons having picnics, sipping tea, and playing cricket with friends. Now that the country is in turmoil, however, with Hitler’s forces knocking at their front door, everything has changed.
Farleigh Place now houses the Royal West Kent Regiment, while the Suttons are relegated to one wing of the estate. Roderick’s middle daughter, Lady Pamela, secretly works at Bletchley Park, deciphering coded transmissions late at night. Meanwhile, the man she loves, ace RAF pilot Jeremy Prescott, is interred in Germany’s Stalag Luft, a camp for captured airmen.
As if all this chaos isn’t enough to put a strain on the family, young Alfie, a Cockney boy staying at the estate, and Sutton’s youngest daughter, Lady Phoebe, find a mangled body that seems to have fallen from the sky. When his uniform and possessions raise suspicions, MI5 operative Ben Cresswell is sent to determine if the dead man was a German spy. To thicken the plot, Cresswell is not only a friend of the Sutton family, but he is in love with Pamela despite the fact that Jeremy is his best friend.
Bowen has a lot going on here, and with each chapter she adds another layer to the story. Intrigue, romance, and secrecy abound. All the while, readers can’t help but feel that there is the tangible threat of danger lurking about the fringes of Farleigh Field, just waiting to pounce.
This is a story that is languidly told, deliciously written, and meant to be savored. Bowen enchants us with her skillful prose, captivates us with authentic characters we’d love to know, and adroitly transports us to war-torn Britain when class distinction was leveled out by events unraveling on the world scene.
And that is what is perhaps most effectively demonstrated here. While much of the Earl’s family clings tenaciously to the way their lives have always functioned, his modern daughters break through the barriers of class and gender to live life on their own terms. This is what makes Pamela such a riveting character, and readers will instantly take a shine to her autonomous spirit.
If you love finely crafted stories that make you look at a familiar period in history with new eyes, yet mesmerize you with a brilliant plot and characters you hate to leave behind, don’t miss Rhys Bowen’s In Farleigh Field. This is one of those rare books that you never want to end.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Rhys Bowen is the New York Times bestselling author of the Royal Spyness series about a penniless minor royal in 1930s Britain, the atmospheric Molly Murphy mysteries about a feisty Irish immigrant in 1900s New York City, and the Constable Evans books. In Farleigh Field is her first big stand-alone thriller.
Rhys is the recipient of several Agatha Awards, including ones for best novel (Murphy’s Law) and best historical novel (Naughty in Nice and Queen of Hearts); several Anthony Awards, including those for best historical novel (For the Love of Mike) and best short story (“Doppelganger”); and the 2016 Romantic Times career achievement award. She is also an Edgar Award nominee for best novel (Evan’s Gate).
Born in Bath, England, Rhys attended London University and married into a family with historic royal connections. She now divides her time between California and Arizona. Visit her home on the Web at RhysBowen.com, like her on Facebook, and follow her on Twitter.