Historical-whodunit maven Perry (No Graves As Yet, 2003, etc.) completes her World War I series with an old case and a new murder.
War is winding to a close, but the casualties are still high. And so the Reavley siblings are back at work: Chaplain Joseph has returned to the front, doing what he can to comfort the few remaining men of his hometown Cambridgeshire regiment. Ambulance-driver Judith is facing a future in which a competent, independent woman may not be valued. And intelligence officer Matthew gets word that the arch-villain they’ve nicknamed “The Peacemaker” may at last be unmasked. This development, which will solve the killing of the Reavleys’ parents back in the first of this series, sends Matthew scurrying up to Joseph’s Flanders post, where a high-ranking German ally of the Peacemaker, a British traitor, is supposed to give himself up. But the timing is bad for a German looking to surrender with honor—and state secrets. With victory on the horizon, Joseph is seeing the subtler emotional costs of war, as honorable men become brutish, beating up prisoners and, perhaps, raping and killing an Army nurse. This crime involves all three siblings. Judith lies to provide an alibi for a friend. Joseph uncovers a similar crime closer to home. Then, Matthew is suspected, before blame is passed on to the German officer who has turned on the Peacemaker. Could this be a last play by the unknown traitor to protect his identity? Perry here focuses on the lasting effects of the first total war. In her world of moral ambiguity, even good guys do bad things.
This moving mystery focuses more on the message than the murder, but it brings one of history’s pivotal times back to life through sharp period detail.