Lovesey, honored this year with the British Crime Writers Association’s Diamond Dagger award for lifetime excellence, sets three reporters loose to discover why Hitler confidante Rudolf Hess, the Nazi who secretly reoutfitted a Messerschmitt and flew it from Germany to Scotland to establish peace negotiations during WW11, was the sole occupant of Spandau prison never to be released. What Jane Calvert-Mead, Dick Garrick, and Red Goodbody turn up is evidence that Churchill, despite frequent, stirring pronouncements about never bowing to the Nazis, was actually meeting with them on British soil to forge an alliance that would decimate the Russians. At the same time, the Nazis were negotiating with the Russians to carve up Europe between them, while Roosevelt calmly waited to see which pact would “take” before committing the Americans to a course of action. Meanwhile, de Gaulle, at odds with Pétain, was blackmailing Churchill for more support. To keep Hess who was privy to all this from revealing it, his continued imprisonment, at least according to MI5 and the KGB, was mandatory. The news trio, however, forge ahead with their inquiries, leading to Garrick’s murder, arson, more death, and the theft of Hess’s memoirs, which he had somehow managed to smuggle out of Spandeau for publication after his death. Goodbody, with James Bond agility and Jane’s help, gains entry to Spandeau, interviews Hess, and escapes from the clutches of MI5, SIS, and the KGB to obtain the last copy of the Hess manuscript, and tell all.
Riveting look at England’s wartime Conservative party members, Churchill’s slim power base, Nuremberg sentencing, and the four-country guardianship of Spandeau. A bit too much Goodbody derring-do, however, but Lovesey adds nice classic-puzzle elements.