Today I am delighted to host a stop on the blog tour for Anne Allen’s latest instalment in The Guernsey Novels – The Betrayal. Falling somewhere between a cozy mystery and full blown historical fiction, Fiona and Leo’s stories will draw you in and hold on tight until the very end.
Treachery and theft lead to death – and love
1940 – Teresa Bichard and her baby are sent by her beloved husband, Leo, to England as the Germans draw closer to Guernsey. Days later they invade…
1942 – Leo, of Jewish descent, is betrayed to the Germans and is sent to a concentration camp, never to return.
1945 – Teresa returns to find Leo did not survive and the family’s valuable art collection, including a Renoir, is missing. Heartbroken, she returns to England.
2011 – Nigel and his twin Fiona buy a long-established antique shop in Guernsey and during a refit, find a hidden stash of paintings, including what appears to be a Renoir. Days later, Fiona finds Nigel dead, an apparent suicide. Refusing to accept the verdict, a distraught Fiona employs a detective to help her discover the truth…
Searching for the true owner of the painting brings Fiona close to someone who opens a chink in her broken heart. Can she answer some crucial questions before laying her brother’s ghost to rest?
Who betrayed Leo?
Who knew about the stolen Renoir?
And are they prepared to kill – again?
Purchase Link – http://myBook.to/TheBetrayal
When I first came across the blurb for this book, I just knew that I had to read it and that it wouldn’t sit long on my TBR pile. With a modern murder mystery rolled together with the WWII occupation of Guernsey, it looked like my dream book – I wasn’t disappointed!
The opening scene with Nigel’s murder, and the subsequent introduction of the Renoir, is one that certainly catches the attention. I was instantly drawn in to the mystery, curious about how the Renoir got there, and desperate to know how Fiona’s evaluation went in London. I was curious too, as to why someone would have known about the Renoir but never moved to claim it before the business sold and things got complicated.
The tension created between the parallel plots – Nigel’s murder, locating the Renoir’s owners, and learning Leo’s fate – ensured that the book moved along at a breakneck pace. And, while I am not normally a fan of too much romance mixed in with my murder, the relationship between Fiona and Michael provided some much needed relief from what would have otherwise been an oppressively dark and saddening tale.
I enjoyed John’s character immensely, and think that it was a smart move to have a different ‘investigator’ for each plot – Fiona for the Renoir, John for Nigel and Leo, and the detective for Nigel specifically. This meant that each element was able to receive the attention that it deserved and it never felt like anything was getting left behind. I was initially hesitant about Nigel’s involvement a la ghost form in the initial stages of the book, but the reality is that we all process grief differently and sometimes people do have experiences like this. Whether you take him as an actual ghost or lean towards considering his presence and subconscious manifestation while processing information, the nub and jib of it is that his continued presence in the story genuinely works!
On the other hand, I was expecting a little more action when it came to actually taking down Nigel’s murderer. After all of the lead up, the trap itself felt far too brief! I was hoping for some big reveal, giant plot twist, or massive action scene and instead we were given something perfectly realistic! I can’t be too upset with the neat and tidy ending though, because it’s actually great. I’m just a little salty and don’t like it when things are wrapped up all perfect. It’s actually the perfect book for when you want a a little drama but still want to be lifted up at then end.
I really appreciated how much attention was given to depicting life on Guernsey, both past and present, as it truly instilled a sense for the people and pace of of life on the island. Given that I’m from Alberta, where a 3 hour drive to the next nearest city is pretty common, I really enjoyed the sense I got for how small Guernsey is and one’s ability to navigate the entire island with with relative speed and ease. Now add in all the talk of architecture, historical villas, beaches and cliff sides and it’s impossible not to fall in love with the imagery.
Would I recommend this book? Absolutely! It deals with some of my favourite topics, is incredibly well written, and somehow manages to remain light and approachable while dealing with some pretty weighty themes. Well researched and fast paced, The Betrayal is sure to have a little something for everyone.
Anne Allen lives in Devon, by her beloved sea. She has three children, and her daughter and two grandchildren live nearby. Her restless spirit has meant a number of moves which included Spain for a couple of years. The longest stay was in Guernsey for nearly fourteen years after falling in love with the island and the people. She contrived to leave one son behind to ensure a valid reason for frequent returns.
By profession, Anne was a psychotherapist, but long had the itch to write. Now a full-time writer, she has written The Guernsey Novels, six having been published and the seventh, The Inheritance, is due out in 2018.
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Many thanks to Rachel Gilbey at Rachel’s Random Resources for organizing this tour, and to Anne Allen for providing an ARC in exchange for an honest review.