Spurred into action, Kate decides she must find out what murder he was referring to and how he knew her grandmother. But after the old man's nephew, then her own grandmother are killed, she realizes things are more complicated than she'd thought. On the run and in disguise, she heads to Portugal, where the man's past lies, tied up with the British Secret Service and war-time espionage.
I LOVED this book. It was one of those I didn't want to end. The mystery is deftly plotted, with plenty of twists and turns while Ms. Cole's multi-dimensional characters, past and present, keep the plot moving at a swift pace without sacrificing depth. War-time New York and Lisbon are brought to life with just the right amount of period detail. The contemporary settings, including Toronto and Whitby, ring equally true.
Kate is a believable heroine, well-motivated and easy to cheer for as she unravels the past while trying to keep herself alive. Deacon, her mysterious informant, is gradually revealed as a man of integrity and loyalty, one who made a supreme sacrifice for the woman he loved.
I think what impressed me most, though, was the way the author dropped subtle hints throughout the story. Some of them I picked up on, others I didn't. It was a fascinating read, trying to keep up with the various threads and waiting for the next clue to be revealed. At one point near the end, a big coincidence threatened to pull me out of the story, only to be explained in a unique and plausible manner, another testament to the writer's talent.
The movement from present to the past and back was handled deftly, told through the eyes of several different characters. A lesser author might not have been able to handle such a device, but Ms. Cole succeeded brilliantly. Each was distinct and added key elements to the plot.
I highly recommend this novel to anyone who loves mysteries, stories set in WWII or just a damn good read. A copy will most certainly find its way onto my Keeper Shelf, alongside my other SK titles. In fact, I'm now reading the latest book by Ms. Cole's alter-ego. The opening chapters of The Winter Sea promise another enthralling read from this talented Canadian author.
Teresa Basinski Eckford
This review first appeared on my Thoughts from Lady Tess blog on October 15, 2008