MYSTERY

Death in Focus: An Elena Standish Novel

Ballantine. (Elena Standish, Bk. 1). Sept. 2019. 320p. ISBN 9780525620983. $28; ebk. ISBN 9780525620990. M
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It’s 1933, and photographer Elena Standish is happily flirting with an attractive man while vacationing on the Amalfi coast. She doesn’t expect to have her holiday sidetracked by an urgent mission to Berlin, to warn authorities about plans for an assassination with the potential to shatter Europe. Elena is in over her head, unsure whom to trust, but determined to complete the mission. In addition, she’s been taking photos of shocking political events that should be shared with the world. Back at home, Elena’s grandfather, the retired head of MI6, finds evidence of a traitor on the British side, which could throw everything into chaos. Perry (“Charlotte & Thomas Pitt” and “William Monk” series) has found the perfect time period to showcase a family’s impassioned defense of democracy and social justice in the face of rising totalitarianism.
VERDICT Obvious comparisons to Charles Todd’s Bess Crawford and Jacqueline Winspear’s Maisie Dobbs are warranted, but this novel also hearkens back to Helen MacInnes’s classic spy thrillers and Mary Stewart’s romantic suspense novels. At turns heartbreaking and action-packed, this gripping and superbly written story proves Perry still has what it takes. [See Prepub Alert, 2/25/19.]

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