Constable (Constable & Robinson)
Date: 28 October 2004
it at Amazon US
Historical Crime [1937 - London & Spain]
Rachel A Hyde
The More Deceived
By David Roberts
of a time machine or being the right age to have lived through it
all, I know of no better way to experience the 1930’s than
by reading a David Roberts novel.
their sea adventure aboard the Queen Mary in Dangerous Sea,
(also reviewed on this site) Lord Edward Corinth and Verity Brown
are back home in London. It is still 1937, and people are of two
minds as to whether a war with Germany is inevitable. Lord Edward
is called upon by the Foreign Office to investigate Winston Churchill
and find out how he is getting hold of confidential information
about Britain’s armament program. But after being spellbound
by the great man’s charisma, what he actually finds is that
somebody has disappeared from his post at the Foreign Office. When
he turns up murdered, Lord Edward once again has a crime to solve.
Meanwhile, Verity is off to Spain and soon so is Lord Edward, but
this time their destination is Guernica.
There is a
story in here, but nothing like as engaging as the classic era pastiche
in Dangerous Sea. Rather, it is a peg to hang all that
history on, and this time the book fairly bursts with it all. Churchill’s
dire predictions, the specious fascination of Communism and Fascism,
Germany’s sinister rumblings and the horrors of Guernica are
all in here. These vie for space with ladies’ racing at Brooklands
and there is always a whiff of the extraordinary style of those
days, the era of Mrs. Simpson, Amelia Earhart and the glamour of
Hollywood. New and vibrant ideas crackle in the air as people expound
on the twin lures of far right-and left-wing politics, and photojournalism
is in its infancy.
this, the actual plot rather gets sidelined, and the set pieces
crowding one on top of another thick and fast only obscure it further.
But when such an extraordinary decade is at your fingertips in such
an energetic and tactile way, anything as artificial as a story
seems almost superfluous. You don’t need to be an aficionado
of historical crime to enjoy these books. David Roberts’ tales
of “interesting times” hold up a mirror to our own times
and illuminate the past. More, please.