Sir Henry's two sons go to Paris to claim the body. The elder brother, now Sir Ashley, wants to accept things at face value and get back home. James “Max” Maxted, recently released from his assignment as a pilot in the Royal Flying Corps, has a feeling that the truth is being covered up and feels a duty to follow up on his intuition. He and his friend, mechanic Sam Twentyman, had planned to run an air field back in the UK but he feels he must put those plans on hold.
The remainder of the book follows Max's adventures in Paris as he looks into his father's involvement in the peace talks and the machinations and double-dealing going on among representatives of various nations. Sam Twentyman joins him in Paris and gets a job as a mechanic for the British delegation to help out behind the scenes.
The plot seemed to wander at times and there were a lot of names and nationalities to keep track. Usually this doesn't bother me, but some of the relationships never became clear to me. At times, the story seemed too melodramatic. On the other hand, I like that Max was not willing to toe the family line and hide the true facts of his father's death (which will not be clear without some digging into the facts). I liked the division in the family, with the elder brother's wife, Lydia, trying to influence events in her favor and Max's mother rooting for him.
The book has a definite cliffhanger ending. Since the book has been marketed as the first part of a trilogy, that did not surprise me. In this case, although the ending was abrupt, it was the ending I expected and it did not bother me. I feel like I have enough closure with this book that I could read on to the next book or not, and the reading experience would still be satisfactory. Other readers have complained strongly about this aspect of the story, so I feel I should include a warning.
In summary, I found this to be a light, entertaining espionage story, fine if you don't mind family drama and a bit of romance included. Of course I enjoyed the setting in time and place and the connection to World War I. This type of historical mystery is a favorite type of read for me. This is the first book by Robert Goddard I have read. I expect to follow up on book 2 in the trilogy eventually, and I have three other books by this author to read.
As far as I can tell, only this first book in the trilogy has been published in the US; the second and third books have been published in the UK.
Publisher: Mysterious Press, 2015 (orig. pub. 2013)
Length: 416 pages
Series: James Maxted, #1
Setting: Paris, France (primarily)
Genre: Thriller, Espionage
Source: Provided by the publisher for review via NetGalley