The Ways of the World
It is 1919, and Paris is seething with diplomats and politicians wrangling over the aftermath of the First World War, as well as the journalists and spies that inevitably follow them. James Maxted, former ace pilot with the Royal Flying Corps, goes to investigate the mysterious death of his father, who has fallen from a Paris rooftop. Max, as James is known, finds himself facing a cover-up—allegedly for the good of himself and his family. It soon becomes apparent that Henry Maxted was murdered for political reasons. Max finds his own life under threat, while his father’s mistress is arrested for another murder. As the death toll mounts, it is clear that a master spy and an assassin are on the loose, and—apart from Max’s former wartime comrade Sam—it is impossible to know whom to trust.
Robert Goddard’s latest novel is complexly plotted and fast moving, and has the feel of a classic spy thriller with many twists and turns. I found the setting of the Paris peace talks fascinating, although the speed of the action and the number of participants does not allow for deep characterisation, and there were some scenes where I would like to have spent more time. Many levels of mystery are presented and not all are resolved at the end, because there will be a sequel. Max’s adventures are not yet over, and this first account of them is a good holiday read.