Friends and Traitors (Inspector Troy) by John Lawton, Atlantic Monthly Press, US $26.00, Pp 384, October 2017, ISBN 978-0802127068
Enchantress of Numbers: A Novel of Ada Lovelace by Jennifer Chiaverini, Dutton, US $27.00, Pp 434, December 2017, ISBN 978-1101985205
Darkness, Sing Me a Song: A Holland Taylor Mystery by David Housewright, Minotaur Books, US $25.99, Pp 276, January 2018, ISBN 978-1250094476
Friends and Traitors is set in London in 1958. These were the tense Cold War days. Chief Superintendent Frederick Troy of Scotland Yard was promoted for his good service. Inspector Troy decides to accompany his older brother, Rod, on a European trip. Rod has arranged this trip to Europe for his family for his fifty-first birthday. It was supposed to be a whirlwind of restaurants, galleries, and concert halls from Paris to Florence to Vienna to Amsterdam. In Vienna, Inspector Troy runs into an old acquaintance — a British spy turned Soviet agent Guy Burgess — who has escaped from Moscow for a quick visit to Vienna. Burgess tells him, “I want to come home.” Troy never thought it would result in Burgess being gunned down and Troy himself would be suspected of the killing. Troy has to prove his innocence. But the bigger struggle is to forget the past memories — there is a scandal going up to the highest ranks of Westminster, involving spooks and politicians alike. There is one memory that overwhelms him when he runs into a woman he had met in the Ritz hotel during a blackout. Falling in love is not for spies. Friends and Traitors is one of those high-octane thrillers that burn up all other spy thriller lists. Anyone who thinks Cold War themes are obsolete should read this thriller.
John Lawton’s Inspector Troy novels have been named Best Books of the Year by The New York Times, Los Angeles Times and New York Times Book Review. Friends and Traitors is Lawton’s eighth novel in the series whose main theme is betrayal, espionage, and the dangers of love. He lives in England.
Ada Byron King, the Countess of Lovelace, is considered the only legitimate child of brilliant Romantic poet Lord Byron and world’s first computer programmer. Her father abandoned her when she was just one month old. Ada’s mathematician mother gave her daughter a rigorous education in mathematics and science. She always made sure she never has any troubling spark of imagination or liking for poetry. When she comes of age, she is the most eligible young heiress in London. When she gets invited to the social and intellectual circles in London, she knows this is the life she had always wanted. What she does not realize is that her friendship with charming inventor Charles Babbage will shape the rest of her life. Ada is fascinated by Babbage’s first calculating machine known as the Difference Engine. Ada decides to help Babbage in realizing his extraordinary dream. Babbage was planning for his even more advanced Analytical Engine. As she studies mathematics, she falls for him and, eventually, discovers the secret story of her parents’ separation. Enchantress of Numbers is a fictionalized biographical novel in which she tells the story of a woman who defied the social norms and outshined most brilliant men in a man’s world. Enchantress of Numbers is as fascinating and inspiring a story as Ada Byron King’s life and personality were. If you consider women the children of a lesser god, you should read Enchantress of Numbers.
Jennifer Chiaverini is the New York Times bestselling author of, among others, Fates and Traitors, Mrs. Lincoln’s Dressmaker, Mrs. Lincoln’s rival, The Spymistress, Mrs. Grant and Madame Jule. She also wrote the beloved Elm Creek Quilts series, as well as six collections of quilt patterns inspired by her books. A graduate of the University of Notre Dame and the University of Chicago. She lives with her husband and two sons in Madison, Wisconsin.
When police arrest Eleanor Barrington for murdering her son’s fiancée, Emily Denys, she refuses to hide her hatred for the victim. Barrington believes that she was taking advantage of her son and her family. Barrington is the doyenne of a socially prominent family of great wealth. Private Investigator Holland Taylor was doing a full background check on Emily Denys. Taylor usually does simple background checks and other mostly unchallenging cases. Taylor actually does not like doing challenging work. He is very bitter by the long-ago death of his wife and daughter. He is also very unhappy because of his recent breakup with a woman he was in love with. It is by sheer accident that he finds himself involved in a high profile crime. Taylor learns that both Emily Denys’ name and background were fabricated. As Taylor makes efforts to discover more, somebody shoots her dead outside her apartment. Barrington had threatened to kill Emily Denys and an eyewitness had seen Barrington shooting Emily. The worst happened when Barrington’s son makes accusations against his mother. Taylor realizes that the bitter truth is both elusive and dangerous. Darkness, Sing Me a Song is a thrill-a-minute read with twists and turns galore. It is one of the most thrilling novels in the Holland Taylor series. You will not be able to put it down before you turn the last page.
David Housewright has won the Edgar Award for his first Holland Taylor crime novel, Penance, and is the three-time winner of the Minnesota Book Award for his crime fiction. He is also the author of several novels featuring Rushmore McKenzie. He is the past president of the Private Eye Writers of America (PWA). He lives in St. Paul, Minnesota.