A Pretty Deceit (A Verity Kent Mystery)

Written by Anna Lee Huber
Review by G. J. Berger

In October 1919, 23-year-old Verity Kent and her husband, Sidney, are trying to shed the traumas of WWI and settle back into the upper-crust British lives they came from. Both have survived their duties in the Secret Service and the carnage all around them on the Continent.

Verity’s Aunt Ernestine calls for help to find paintings and smaller valuables missing from her estate in the Wilshire countryside. During the war, Ernestine had allowed RAF airmen from the adjacent airfield to billet in the manor house. Verity and Sidney quickly solve the painting mystery, but the suspicious deaths of the main groundskeeper and then a maid complicate the assignment. Several of the household help and even airmen become possible suspects.

Another deadly mystery unfolds side-by-side with Aunt Ernestine’s troubles. Lord Ardmore, high up in Britain’s military, seems bent on murdering people close to Verity and Sydney. He may be hiding a large-scale treasonous operation. Huber fully set up the Lord Ardmore capers in an earlier Verity Kent book. In this novel, some characters and complicated clues related to Ardmore appear abruptly and become a bit difficult to connect without reading that novel.

Huber expertly portrays the PTSD effects on Verity and Sidney inflicted by the Great War while they struggle to keep themselves and others out of danger. The Downton Abbey-like households and society tiers are well done and ring true. Some readers may be put off by the too-modern ease with which telephone calls are made and received in 1919. Overall, this story will work well for readers of the Verity Kent novels and others who enjoy immersion in the lives and times of England between the two World Wars.