A Spying Eye (A Henrietta and Inspector Howard Novel, 6)

Written by Michelle Cox
Review by Gini Grossenbacher

1930s Europe finds Chicagoans Clive and Henrietta Von Harmon returning to London, where they encounter an old friend, Inspector John Hartle. Hitler’s top men are purloining artwork for the Führer’s collection. They are seeking the missing panel of the Ghent Altarpiece, “The Just Judges,” stolen from St. Bavo’s Cathedral in Belgium. A second storyline ensues: Chicago’s Oldrich Exley, Henrietta’s grandfather, disapproves of Henrietta’s sister Elsie’s plans to marry her love interest, impoverished German custodian Gunther Stockel, a former professor she met while a student at Mundelein College. If the union goes forward, Exley will cut off Elsie’s allowance and withdraw her dowry. Gunther is caring for a little epileptic girl, Anna, who has been left in his care, and a generous Henrietta has employed a nurse to look after the child. Meanwhile, Heinrich Meyer appears, claims to be little Anna’s father, and threatens to take her away with him. His grasping wife, Rita, attempts to extort $3000 from Elsie’s family in return for allowing them to keep Anna.

The main storyline returns to Clive and Henrietta at Château du Freudeneck, the ancient seat of the Von Harmon family. Events turn dark as Nazi officers arrive at the castle, searching for the missing panel. After Henrietta learns some shocking information, she and Clive trust a French servant who offers to help them escape. The story of Clive and Henrietta’s search for the missing Ghent Altarpiece panel is compelling and appropriate to the time when the Nazis conducted ruthless operations to fulfill Hitler’s lust for artwork all over Europe. The second enjoyable feature of this novel lies in the love story binding Clive and Henrietta, who display a humorous yet profound rapport with one another; their romance is a mix of intelligence and sensuality. Sixth in the series.