Death in Focus (Elena Standish Book 1)

Written by Anne Perry
Review by Ann Northfield

1933. Tensions are escalating around Europe, and the memories of the Great War are still fresh in the minds of many who are determined not to have another conflict. Opposing viewpoints about what to do to counteract the rise of the Nazi Party are key to the story. Elena Standish is a budding photographer who, together with her sister Margot, who is a war widow, has gone to Amalfi on an assignment. Whilst there, she inadvertently becomes embroiled in a game of spies which ends murderously. Now Elena must use all her skills of subterfuge and evasion to get secret knowledge to the right people.

Her dramatic dash to Berlin and her experiences once there are vividly described as she is arrested and struggles to know who to trust.

The story is entertaining and varied, with enough excitement to keep the pages turning. One issue I had was that the author likes to use exclamation marks! Lots of them! Sometimes as many as three on a page! I’m not a fan of this! The big twist at the end was not too much of a surprise, as the clues are clearly signposted along the way. The theme of loyalty to family and country is explored in some depth, and the legacy and impact of working as a spy on the family as a whole and on the individual is also shown. Perry is a prolific author who has written well-known series featuring the characters of William Monk and Thomas Pitt.