A friend loaned me this book, saying he thought I would enjoy it. He was right I did…with the caveat that if I’d know it was the second book in the series, I would have read the first one first!
The book is set in France and flits between a Maquis group in the 1940s and a murder in 2018.
The central character in 2018 is Captain Ines Picaut, a detective in Orleans. She is investigating the murder of an old woman, shot with great precision, in her car. The murder happens at an awkward time as there is a conference of USA security services happening in Orleans and security is high and tight.
In 1940s the key character is the woman murdered in 2018. She is a successful assassin and has been assigned to work with a Maquis group and also to kill a Nazi officer called Kramme. Kramme manages to evade his hunters because of a mole within SOE/MI6/the Maquis group and because the Americans whisk him away at the end of the war to help them set up a Soviet desk in one of their bureaux.
I liked the main characters in the book. The majority were strong, interesting, and engaging woman. I liked the ambiguity; they are an interesting mix of neither wholly good nor wholly bad.
I also liked the slight ambiguity of the ending.
In some ways the book is uncomfortable; it tells of events in the 1940s when there were reprisals against those perceived to have collaborated with the Nazis. In the instance described, the person killed was planted be the resistance, to appear to collaborate and to learn what they can. It reminds us that things are seldom black and white but usually shades of grey. We judge people who are seen to fraternise with “the enemy” but should we? Is it fair to judge people who may just be trying to survive?
I’m disappointed that I didn’t read book 1 first, it would have set some of Picaut’s actions in context, but I did enjoy the book and I will go back to read Into the Fire, and probably any subsequent books.