A wedding is threatened by last-minute disputes and a tricky murder case.
It’s been quite a rocky road to romance between Inspector Darling, who polices a quiet area in British Columbia, and Lane Winslow, a former British spy of independent means who sought refuge in Canada after World War II. By 1947, Lane’s been involved in several murder cases (A Sorrowful Sanctuary, 2018, etc.), sometimes irking the old-fashioned Darling. A call from the local vicar asking her to translate for an elderly Russian lady who’s seeking her brother leads Lane to take in Countess Orlova, recently arrived from Shanghai, until other accommodations can be found. Despite Orlova’s suspicions of the police, Lane calls on Darling for help. Meanwhile, Stanimir Aptekar, a Russian spy who worked with Lane on an attempt to defect but was arrested by the KBG and sent to Siberia, manages to escape and heads for Canada, where he hopes for help from Lane. Orlova brightens her hostess’s life by spinning tales of her aristocratic past and creating some exquisite watercolor paintings, but Lane fears something is amiss. Orlova claims to have questioned Vancouver’s Russian community about her brother, but when Darling's colleague Ames visits the city, he finds no one who remembers her. Back home, Darling has his hands full with the case of a hunter found with his throat slit. Interviewed by British Intelligence about Aptekar, Lane thinks she spots the spiteful hand of the director of the intelligence service, her former lover, behind the questioning. Though she and Darling are deeply in love, Lane’s independent streak and her need to withhold information as the Wartime Secrets Act demands strain their relationship. Their two cases come together in a strange way when Lane uncovers some of Orlova’s secrets.
A nostalgic look at postwar Canada melds with a riveting tale of old and new Russia as its deeply nuanced characters lurch from one dangerous situation to the next.