"[Rennie Airth's] meticulously detailed procedural mysteries are beautifully written . . . well worth reading, and rereading."
-Marilyn Stasio, The New York Times Book Review
On a freezing London night in 1944, Rosa Novak is brutally murdered during a blackout. Scotland Yard suspects the young Polish refugee was the victim of a random act of violence and might have dropped the case if former police investigator John Madden hadn't been her employer. Madden feels he owes it to Rosa to find her killer and pushes the investigation, uncovering her connection to a murdered Parisian furrier, a member of the Resistance, and a stolen cache of diamonds.
Delivering the atmospheric writing and compelling characters that have already established Rennie Airth as a master of suspense as well as style, this long-awaited third installment in the John Madden series is historical crime writing at its best.
Airth's books are old-fashioned in one way: Madden is seamlessly admirable. He may live with demons, but this has to do with having experienced the horrors of trench warfare and the deaths of his first wife and child, not with any inherent flaws. At times, his goodness verges on the two-shoes variety. Yet he solves cases by plain, hard workinterviewing witnesses, following up on even tenuous leads, drawing upon his knowledge of the community in which he livesand not, as Holmes and Poirot often do, by tossing off thunderbolts of you'll-never-guess insight. In an era when our real-life heroes tend to have feet of thick, grubby clay, it can be bracing to spend time with a man who is naturally but not implausibly noble.