A British doctor who doubles as spy makes a dangerous trip to occupied Belgium during World War I.
When starchy housekeeper Mrs. Rachel Harrop catches the butler, the parlormaid, and two housemaids listening outside the study door of quiet banker Mr. Jowett, she’s shocked until she hears a bit of what Jowett and his wife are saying. Then gunshots ring out. The police call it a murder-suicide, but the fact that the bank is owned by a wealthy German-American whose son, Paul Diefenbach, actually runs it arouses suspicions, especially since Paul is missing, supposedly on a trip to South America. The investigation becomes more urgent when a Belgian priest reports overhearing a conversation between two men and a woman who are discussing kidnapping a child and mention the names Jowett and Sister Marie-Eugenie. Sir Charles Talbot, who runs a highly secret intelligence service, immediately calls upon Dr. Anthony Brooke, who along with his clever wife, Tara, is familiar with both the nun and the orphanage in Belgium from Brooke’s early brush with German machinations and the evil use of a little girl known only as Milly (Frankie’s Letter, 2013, etc.). Further investigation turns up clues to blackmail plots, an attack on Jowett’s stepson, and the knife-wielding woman whom the priest overheard agreeing to be a nursemaid and possibly a murderer. Only Brooke’s hair-raising trip to the Belgian orphanage to rescue Milly sets the authorities on the path to the truth.
An exciting spy novel partly based on historical events is excellent as a stand-alone but even more enjoyable if you read Frankie’s Letter first.