Genre: Historical Fiction, Mystery, Historical Mystery
Setting: 1941 Kent, London, and Paris
***I received an eARC copy of In Farleigh Field from Lake Union Publishing via NetGalley***
Review: An enjoyable mystery that really clicks in the second half of the book.
In Farleigh Field by Rhys Bowen is a great WWII historical fiction and mystery book that has a lot of intrigue and historical information. Focusing on the Westerham family, with daughters Pamela, Phoebe, Diana, and Margot, and family friends Ben and Jeremy, this is a story that calls Downton Abbey to mind.
The Westerham family is one of those old titled families that cling to the past while the world changes around them. Pamela has taken a job at Bletchley Park, doing important code work that she can’t talk about. Diana, “Dido”, is stuck at home longing for excitement and escape. Margot is trapped in Paris, and waits anxiously for news of her lover, who is part of the Resistance movement. And young Phoebe, “Feebs”, wants to ride her horse and find adventure.
I enjoyed reading about all of these different sisters. They each have their own personality, and I could easily distinguish which sister was which. I got a bit nervous when I first started the book as there is a character list at the beginning, but this was a great addition.
My favorite of the sisters was young Feebs, who along with Alfie, a young boy evacuated from London, discover the dead parachuter on the property. Feebs and Alfie were adorable, and I would love to see them solve mysteries in another book; especially if Miss Gumble, Pheobe’s governess who is known as “Gumbie”, is there as well.
Besides the sisters, Gumbie, and Alfie, another main character is Ben Cresswell, who was injured in a plane crash prior to the war, and therefore cannot fight, and ends up working for MI5. One of the things that I learned from this book is how men who were not in uniform were treated during the war. Since there wasn’t any obvious “proof” that they were serving their country, they were shamed on the streets and constantly having to defend themselves and their situation. Many of these men had injuries where they couldn’t fight, or were working with MI5, or doing other work within the country.
Another important historical detail that this book focuses on is how much women helped the war effort. From code breaking, to land girls, and working with maps, women made a big difference, and this book helped show the different ways women were helping.
In terms of the mystery aspect, it was well done, and the mystery really started clicking at about the 65 percent mark. Some of the plots and links I was able to connect before they were revealed, but others I missed, so this book had enough surprise to keep me interested. I love it when an author can reveal something in the book at the very moment the reader discovers it for themselves, and this happened a time or two here, which was great.
All in all, In Farleigh Field is a great historical fiction mystery book that will make you want to break code and have tea on the lawn of a large manor home. And you will fall in love with Feebs and Alfie!
Bottom Line: A smart and engaging historical mystery. The characters are a lot of fun!
Thanks to Lake Union Publishing and NetGalley for the eARC!
Does this sound like a fun mystery? Do you like historical mysteries? Have you read any other Rhys Bowen books? I love her Constable Evan Evans mystery series set in Wales! I also have a soft spot for the Lady Georgiana mysteries, which are set in England in the 1930s.