Publication Date: September 8, 2020
About the Author: Anne Perry is the New York Times bestselling author of two acclaimed series set in Victorian England: the William Monk novels and the Charlotte and Thomas Pitt novels. She is also the author of a series featuring Thomas and Charlotte Pitt’s son, Daniel, including Triple Jeopardy and One Fatal Flaw; the new Elena Standish series, beginning with Death in Focus; five World War I novels; eighteen holiday novels, most recently A Christmas Resolution; and a historical novel, The Sheen on the Silk, set in the Ottoman Empire. Anne Perry lives in Los Angeles.
The second book in the Elena Standish series, this book takes the painful relics of Elena’s past and puts them front and center in her role as a photographer-cum-secret-agent for the British secret service. Once upon a time, a young and naive Elena had an affair with Aiden Strother…who went on to betray his country and disappear from her life branded a German spy. Now that she herself has entered the intelligence world, Elena learns that things are a bit more complicated. Aiden’s desertion was actually an act of supreme self-sacrifice, a front to make it appear to the Nazis that he was on their side. Embedded in Trieste, Aiden has been obtaining information for Britain as a double agent, but with his closest contact gone incommunicado, the secret service fears that his cover has been blown. They need someone to travel to Trieste and extract him…preferably someone who can recognize him on sight.
Hitler’s grip is growing on Europe and the latest question in the game of politics is whether Austria will unite with Germany. Money is being funneled from many sources to achieve this objective and the list of donors will prove indispensable to those who value the world’s freedom. In this fast-paced spy thriller, Elena must confront her insecurities and demons and get Aiden–or at least the information he is carrying–back to Britain. In the process, she must decide whether he’s worth trusting again, with her mission, her heart, and ultimately, her life.
This book continues to develop a trio of interesting Standish characters. Elena’s grandfather Lucas is the retired head of MI6 who has not quite given up his influence among members of the department. While Elena sleuths through the streets of Trieste, Lucas must uncover the corruption at home. Disconcerted by what is being asked of his granddaughter, he nevertheless recognizes that she has a part to play and must play it well. Meanwhile, Elena’s older sister Margot makes her own journey to Berlin. There, Margot witnesses the marriage of a childhood friend to a blond-haired, blue-eyed member of the Gestapo, all while hobnobbing with diplomats and gaining valuable details about the simmering tensions that threaten to boil over the whole continent.
This book hits the same notes of suspense, mystery, and fascinating history as the first book in the series, and although readers would benefit from knowing how Elena got tangled up in secret service work initially, it could probably be read as a standalone. Once again, Elena is a resourceful yet vulnerable heroine, learning to use her talents and looks as a weapon in the service of her country. Although she is not the title character, Margot still comes off as my favorite, combining the manners of a glamorous socialite with a streak of fierce intelligence. World War II history aficionados, or those who just want a fast-paced thriller, will enjoy this series.
Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this title from the publisher via NetGalley. All opinions expressed in this review are my own.