A murder investigation centering on postwar London brings together two very different people in Busby’s last novel.
Busby, who died in 2012 after a long illness, wrote her book while in the final stages of cancer. Reflecting the abject bleakness of daily life following World War II, when necessities were rationed and men newly returned from the front lines found there was no work to be had, Busby’s story simultaneously follows Lillian Frobisher in the last days leading up to her murder in a bombing and the longings of a police investigator for the kind of relationship that eludes him. Divisional DI Jim Cooper is assigned to solve the killing of a woman whose body is discovered by schoolboys, but her death only serves to underscore his own loneliness. Deserted when the war broke out by the woman he loved, Cooper finds his life sad and repetitive and despairs of ever finding love again. Meanwhile, Cooper and the policewoman who has been assigned to drive him around London in connection with the case are piecing together the events leading up to Frobisher’s murder one small bit at a time. When police identify her as the wife of a returned serviceman who cares for her elderly mother in a bombed-out home, they inch closer to finding out who actually killed the woman. The story of two desperately lonely individuals whose lives have become meaningless, Busby’s novel is based on an actual murder that took place after the war. Set against the bleakness of a London that’s short on everything and still in tatters from bombings and splintered relationships, the book captures the hopelessness and desperation of the times. Busby’s husband prefaces his wife’s book with a beautifully written tribute to his late wife and her talent, which makes the reading experience even more poignant.
A moody gem of a novel that gives moving testament to the exemplary talent that is Busby's lasting legacy.