In Farleigh Field: A Novel of World War II by Rhys Bowen
Rating: Very Good
Description: World War II comes to Farleigh Place, the ancestral home of Lord Westerham and his five daughters, when a soldier with a failed parachute falls to his death on the estate. After his uniform and possessions raise suspicions, MI5 operative and family friend Ben Cresswell is covertly tasked with determining if the man is a German spy. The assignment also offers Ben the chance to be near Lord Westerham’s middle daughter, Pamela, whom he furtively loves. But Pamela has her own secret: she has taken a job at Bletchley Park, the British code-breaking facility.
As Ben follows a trail of spies and traitors, which may include another member of Pamela’s family, he discovers that some within the realm have an appalling, history-altering agenda. Can he, with Pamela’s help, stop them before England falls?
Inspired by the events and people of World War II, writer Rhys Bowen crafts a sweeping and riveting saga of class, family, love, and betrayal.
Genre: Fiction - Historical
Why I Picked This Book: I can't resist the Bletchley Park connection and I've really enjoyed other books from Rhys Bowen in the past.
My Impression: I've been a long time fan of Bowen's Royal Spyness series - a cozy mystery series set in the 1930s around Lady Georgiana, 34th in line from the throne. While this series is always entertaining and always a good read it has a tendency to go a little silly at times. While this works for Georgie and her hijinks I wasn't sure how it would translate to WWII era Bletchley Park. Really though I should have trusted Bowen because while there was an occasional humorous interaction this book never once strayed to hijinks or silliness but instead was a solid, ridiculously readable, and compelling mystery.
The mystery itself is intriguing - who was the man who fell to his death in the middle of the night? Who was he trying to meet up with? What is going to happen next? I loved the different elements of how the mystery unraveled between Ben work at MI5, Pamela's work at Bletchley Park, and the very curious and intelligent Phoebe, 12 year old sister of Pamela, and her new found friend the out of place Cockeny Alfie.
But my favorite part of this read were the characters themselves and the different challenges they faced. There is the intelligent and observant Pamela who struggles to be taken seriously as an interpreter at Bletchley, the injured and friend-zoned Ben, unable to serve because of a careless accident shortly before the war but devoted to his country, the resentful Dido who is stuck and Farleigh and angry that she neither gets her debut nor is able to go to London to take part in the war work. They all add to the wartime feel of the mystery easy to identify and connect with. I adored the relationship between Phoebe and Alfie - her young lady of the manor mixed with his Cockney bravado is frequently funny and I found it sweet to watch their friendship develop though they both would be horrified by the use of the world sweet.
While this isn't silly it also isn't a particularly dark or angsty read. I really enjoyed the look at Bletchley and the countryside of England during wartime. It definitely made me want to read more about both. If you're looking for a light but not fluffy historical fiction and can't resist a World War II setting this is one you must not miss!
Would I Read More of this Series/Author?: Absolutely! I really enjoy her Royal Spyness series and and I was really impressed with this book.
Would I Recommend this Book?: