The long aftermath of murder on a World War I battlefield.
Sixteen years after he enlisted in the Royal Engineers and was declared missing somewhere in France, American cartographer Michael Clifton’s remains and few possessions are dug up by a farmer in the Somme Valley, setting his parents on a quest to find the author of the surviving love letters signed only as The English Nurse, or Tennie. They appeal to London private investigator Maisie Dobbs (Among the Mad, 2009, etc.) for help, but a quick scan of the autopsy work convinces Maisie that she’s involved not only in a missing-person case but a murder enquiry—Michael was bludgeoned to death with one of his surveying instruments. Then things start to happen in the present. Edward and Martha are nearly killed in their hotel room. Maisie is attacked on the street and her briefcase stolen. And Tennie remains elusive. Through it all, Maisie remains unruffled. Several likely beaux for her pop around, and she finds time to consult with two mentors, one on his death bed, the other urging her to close her eyes and see. There’ll be another death, Upstairs-Downstairs snobbery, greed, romance, familial revenge and lots of tea drinking before Maisie wraps up the case and even becomes an heiress herself.
Undemanding fare, with perhaps too many characters whose tragic episodes in their past are exacerbated by family silences.