During the dangerous days of World War II, Honey Deschamps is spending her days transcribing decrypted messages at Bletchley Park, when she starts to receive bizarrely coded packages. When everyone is keeping secrets, who can you trust?
Bletchley Park, 1942: As World War II rages on, Honey Deschamps sits at her type-x machine, tediously transcribing decrypted signals from the German Army, doing her part to assist the British war effort. Halfway across the world, Hitler’s armies are marching into Leningrad, leaving a trail of destruction and pillaging the country’s most treasured artworks, including the famous Amber Room—the eighth wonder of the world.
As reports begin filtering into Bletchley Park about the stolen loot, Honey receives a mysterious package, hand-delivered from a man that she has never seen before who claims that he works at the Park as well. The package is postmarked from Russia, and inside is a small piece of amber. It is just the first of several such packages, and when she examines them together she realizes that someone, relying on her abilities to unravel codes, is trying to tell her something.
Honey can’t help but fear that the packages are a trap set by the authorities to test her loyalties—surely nothing so valuable could get through the mail during a time of war. And yet, something about the packages reminds her of stories that her brother used to tell her about her absent father, and when her brother is found brutally murdered on his way to visit Honey, she can’t help but assume that the events are connected. But at Bletchley Park, secrecy reigns supreme, and she has nowhere to turn for help . . .
Lucy Ribchester was the winner of the Scottish Book Trust New Writer's Award 2013. Her travel writing has appeared in The Guardian and Scotland in Trust magazines and her short stories have been published by, among others, Vintage Script, Ether, and Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine. Lucy lives in Edinburgh.
"This sophomore effort by the author of The Hourglass Factory is a fascinating historical mystery that explores issues of secrecy, trust, and families but never impedes the element of almost Hitchcockian suspense. A sure-bet for fans of the PBS series The Bletchley Circle, Susan Elia MacNeal’s “Maggie Hope” series, and Rhys Bowen’s In Farleigh Field."
– Library Journal (starred; Pick of the Month)
"Ribchester convincingly re-creates wartime life and the enclosed world of code-breaking and plays out the suspense in a Hitchcock homage almost worthy of the master."
– Kirkus Reviews (starred)
"A richly imagined WWII-era thriller. Ribchester movingly reflects on trust, illusion, and the stories that connect us to our pasts."
– Publishers Weekly (starred)
"Filled with enough mystery and reversals to keep the reader turning pages. I also enjoyed the nostalgic look back at some of the movies and music of that bygone era, and was completely surprised by the ending."
– Mystery Scene
"Both a quirky satire of WWII spy fiction and a complex, suspenseful story filled with unusual details portraying women’s lives during the war."
"Suspense, mystery, and intrigue are high in this novel. Ribchester easily transports readers to the past, cleverly hiding clues throughout bits of the story, and creating quite a number of twists and turns throughout. Bletchley Circle comes alive, as do the feelings of fear, distrust, and paranoia of the times. Readers will be kept guessing, and the ending is a surprise. Recommended."
– Historical Novels Review
"A brilliant novel of lies and intrigue at Bletchley Park. A compelling mystery with historically accurate details."
"While the mystery itself is compelling, the novel’s most intriguing elements come from depictions of life in England during wartime blackouts and rationing. [Ribchester] builds a realistic setting that makes Honey’s situation informative and believable."