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Publisher: Constable (Constable & Robinson)
Release Date: 28 October 2004
ISBN: 184119753X
Format Reviewed: Hardback
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Genre:  Historical Crime [1937 - London & Spain]
Reviewed: 2004
Reviewer: Rachel A Hyde
Reviewer Notes:  

The More Deceived
By David Roberts

     Short 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.

     After 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.

    Amongst all 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.