Final installment of the Dark Talents trilogy (Serpent in the Heather, 2018, etc.), a spy saga set in an alternate 1936 where many people have paranormal abilities, or Talents.
Young British-American Secret Intelligence Service operative Kim Tavistock has a Talent, the spill—the ability to get people to blab their secrets—which, with her determination and tenacity, makes her well-suited to her profession. In Berlin, posing as the wife of a British diplomat, Kim contacts Hannah Linz, the reckless, vengeful leader of a Jewish resistance cell (and whose capacity to evade the Gestapo seems all but miraculous). There are whispers about a dreadful new Nazi scheme, Monarch, whose key is Irina Annakova, a Russian with czarist pretensions, presently lurking in one of Hitler's Bavarian hideaways and scorning the low-born Nazi bigwigs. Irina's Talent can temporarily boost the Talents of others. Repeated augmentations, however, have cumulative and disastrous side effects. Hannah reveals a plan to penetrate and destroy Monarch that Kim considers both far-fetched and repugnantly unethical. But why are the SS reporting Kim's movements to her "husband," and why is her SIS handler so reluctant to let her do her job? Against the persuasive 1930s ambience, Kenyon's three splendid female protagonists stand out and are ably supported by a sparkling minor cast. The Talents, however, fail to impress. We hear about a few; Kenyon lists many others without providing details. But what makes the Talents notably "dark"? And wouldn't their increasing prevalence induce stress and tension in the fabric of society? So, the ideas are there, but the rigorous logic and balanced, thoughtful development that would bring them convincingly to life are not.
A treat for existing fans; and, though this is independently intelligible, curious newcomers might prefer to begin with Volume 1.