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Book Review: In Farleigh Field, by Rhys Bowen

A cozy WWII mystery with a bit of Bletchley Park.


In Farleigh Field

Lake Union Publishing, 2017, 379 pages



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.




This was the book that the execrable Mr. Churchill's Secretary wanted to be.

The theme is very similar — a bunch of upper-class Brits, ranging from a Vicar's son (who isn't really "well-off" but has still managed to get an Oxford education and stay friends with lots of aristocrats) to a family of girls living on an old baronial estate called Farleigh Place that now has to play host to an Army unit — are all pitching in to the war effort as England faces what appears to be the imminent threat of a German invasion in 1941.

As with the above named book, one of the characters is a "Bletchley Park girl" while the male protagonist, whose injury in a plane crash before the war keeps him out of active service, finds himself working for MI5.

In Farleigh Field is a bit of a cozy WWII mystery, with the mysterious dead parachutist found on the grounds, the suspicious return of one of the daughters' boyfriends from a German POW camp, and the MI5 guy trying to figure out who the German spy is while mooning over his childhood crush who is now kinda sorta engaged to the rakish, returning war hero. There is family drama (the girls fighting over boys, and boredom, and wanting more freedom from their conservative, protective parents), spy intrigue (one daughter found herself trapped in Paris when the Germans occupied it, with a fiancee who joined the Resistance), and of course the whodunnit or who's-gonna-do-it in Farleigh Field. Even a couple of cute kids get into the act, and there is an appearance by good old Winston Churchill in the climax.

While In Farleigh Field is a bit lightweight as historical novels go, it is at least written competently and the characters are each individual personalities. I liked it for what it was.






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