The Traitor Among Us

Anne Perry paints a sensitive portrait of political tensions in interwar Britain in her fifth Elena Standish novel, The Traitor Among Us. When Lucas Standish, the former head of MI6, learns that one of his agents has been murdered near a country estate, he sends two agents--Elena, his granddaughter and a photographer, and her colleague James Allenby--to a house party on that same estate. Their investigation will not only unmask a killer but also reveal strong Fascist sympathies among the upper-class Wyndham family and their connections.

Perry (A Truth to Lie For), who died in April, brings back familiar characters from her previous Standish novels but gives readers enough context to read this story on its own. Margot, Elena's older sister who was widowed at the end of World War I, has grown close to a man named Geoffrey Baden, whose sister and brother-in-law are the house party's hosts. Margot's presence gives James and Elena a way in but also complicates matters, given that Elena can't tell her their real reason for being there. Old tensions between the sisters flare up almost at once, and both James and Elena uncover clues pointing to either Margot's beloved or a member of his family. Perry provides historical context for the "never again" postwar political movement in England, the popularity of Oswald Mosley and his Blackshirts, and the power of a well-timed accusation to ruin a person's career. The Traitor Among Us is a well-plotted mystery and a thoughtful commentary on divided loyalties, both political and familial. --Katie Noah Gibson, blogger at Cakes, Tea and Dreams

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