It Begins in Betrayal

Written by Iona Whishaw
Review by Helene Williams

In this fourth tale in Whishaw’s Lane Winslow series, readers are treated to not one, but two, intricately plotted—make that cross-plotted—mysteries. Inspector Frederick Darling and former Special Branch agent Lane Winslow are quite busy falling in love in post-World War II King’s Cove, British Columbia when enemies from the past interrupt. It seems that there is some irregularity with Darling’s report from four years earlier when his bomber went down behind enemy lines in Germany, and he has been summoned to London to set the record straight. At the same time, elderly recluse Agatha Browning has been stabbed outside her cabin on the edge of the forest. Darling delegates the murder investigation to Constable Ames, who methodically, and with quite a bit of help from Lane, traces Agatha’s history back to her upper-class roots in Dorset. Lane, troubled by the circumstances under which Darling has been called away, heads to London herself, to check on him. What she finds is a jailed Inspector, non-cooperative bomber crew members, and a sneaking suspicion that she’s being followed. Her investigation leads her places she thought she’d never have to go to again.

Whishaw’s ability to intertwine two complex plot lines is admirable, as is her skill at imbuing even minor characters with well-drawn backstories. She excels at period details, and the contrast between late 1940s British Columbia and postwar London is striking: one is sunny, wide open, and, in spite of a murder, hopeful, whereas the other is a series of cramped, dingy rooms filled with fear and anxiety. We get to see both Darling and Lane at their most vulnerable as they come under attack from adversaries known and unknown; it’s a talented writer who can package all this together and nicely tie up every detail as well.