A wealthy Australian artist with leftist leanings runs up against the old boy network while hunting a murderer in 1933 England.
When Rowland Sinclair went to Germany at the behest of his elder brother, Wilfred, along with his best friends—fellow artist Clyde Watson Jones, Jewish poet Elias “Milton” Isaacs, and stunning sculptress Edna Higgins—they barely escaped with their lives (Paving the New Road, 2018). Rowland’s arm was broken and a swastika burned into his chest. Ensconced in the penthouse at Claridge’s, Rowland is surprised to learn that his brother is back in London, too. Although Wilfred is furious with both Rowland, who’s wanted in Germany for murder, and himself for sending his younger brother into danger, he agrees to find someone important to listen to Rowland’s accounts of Nazi horrors. A meeting Wilfred sets up with Lord Pierrepont turns into a disaster when they find the peer at his club with Allie Dawe, a hysterically screaming young woman covered in blood. Pierrepont is dressed in a woman’s nightgown, heavily made up, and clutching the sword that’s killed him. Allie, Pierrepont’s niece and secretary, is arrested for his murder. With Wilfred off in London for a conference and everyone around him eager to hush up the truth about Pierrepont’s murder, Rowland refuses to see Allie convicted. His friends panic when Rowland is kidnapped off the street until they learn that his abductor is his second cousin, Rear Adm. Sinclair, aka “Quex,” who thinks Rowland is wasting his life. As they mix with members of every class, Rowland and his friends are threatened by British Blackshirts in their attempt to free Allie and convince the aristocrats, who are often sympathetic to the Nazi cause, to wake up to the approaching danger.
Rowland’s determined attempts to open British eyes to the gathering storm combine mystery, rousing adventure, and chance meetings with eminent figures from Churchill to Evelyn Waugh.