Snappy, if occasionally slow-paced, debut in which the moneyed ease of a young woman’s life is shattered when her entire family is killed on an evening.
Mia Taylor’s family—her 20-year-old twin sisters, Caitlin and Lara; her turning-30 younger brother Ben—gather at her parents’ home for a birthday celebration. By the end, they are all dead (Lara will die the next morning) thanks to a bomb that went off, presumably meant for a neighbor with a murky relation to the troubles in Ireland. Unable to face the unrelenting sympathy of well-wishers and friends, Mia leaves her well-paying, influential government job and “goes East,” where she finds work managing an alternative medicine clinic. Rubbing shoulders with street stragglers, immigrants, and a host of local eccentrics, Mia is tracked down in her new life by Claude, a friend of her brother Ben’s, who tells her the truth behind her family’s death. Ben, who was involved in a high-level, multinational money-laundering scheme, had been “skimming off the top” from his shady clients and had paid the price for his hubris. Though Claude insists she leave the past alone, Mia can’t help but begin a search for her family’s killers, an inquiry that will lead her to one of London’s leading Muslim clerics by way of her former employer, Miles Anderton, a comer in English politics. D’Ancona, deputy editor of the Sunday Telegraph, has a sure grasp of the rich cultural, class, and ethnic tapestry that makes up Mia’s contemporary London, and this sense of place is one of the story’s signal strengths as Mia loses her illusions, confronts hard truths, and is finally able to make a bitter peace with her past.
A lively and compelling portrait of the city, while Mia, vividly drawn and engaging, meanders a half-step too slowly toward a conclusion that’s itself fresh and satisfying.