Mary Ellen Fraser is living a lie in Janes’ intricate web of deceit, love, and politics during World War II. Married to a small-town doctor in Northern Ireland, Mary was seduced by, and thought she loved, a German prisoner of war her husband was treating. There was no thought of espionage when her lover, Erich Kramer, asked her to smuggle a note to his cousin by way of a third party in Dublin. Only when her car is searched on the way back across the border does Mary realize that was no letter to a worried family member: it was a coded message to the Reich. Suddenly, details like cigarette ashes and altered odometer readings have layers of meaning, and Mary realizes too late that she is trapped. She has aided the enemy, and there is no redemption, no way out. An already scary situation becomes even more threatening when the Irish Republican Army becomes involved in an elaborate plan to release the prisoners from Tralane Castle. No character is benign, and no doctor, housekeeper, or officer is without a backstory of compromised morals and questionable actions.
While the plot twists and personal motivations are very dark, Janes also creates a sympathetic angle to most of his characters, which will appeal to readers not normally interested in such deep political intrigue or the thriller genre. The countryside outside of Belfast and the gritty underside of Dublin are both magical and dangerous, and readers will come away with a strong sense of the limits of individual freedoms during this time of internal and external strife.