When a man is shot dead in full view of a number of eminently respectable witnesses the police appear to have an open and shut case on their hands.
Or have they jumped to an easy conclusion because the victim was one of their own?
Perhaps the victim is not as innocent, nor the accused as guilty, as the prosecution makes them out to be – perhaps the accused was the real victim…
Perhaps, if her father had not been an ambitious young politician in the 1950s and her mother had been able to prove exactly who, and what, she was, Jane Carmichael could have lived her life the way she wanted to.
Perhaps if her mother had not made an enemy of a man she met in the embassy in Moscow, they would not have had to spend the sixty years running away – never sure quite from what, or from whom.
Perhaps if Jane had been able to live a different life she would not be on trial for a murder she was certain she could not have committed.
Her Parents’ Daughter introduces Gordon Hamilton and Jane Carmichael, characters who will appear in later titles. It is the first in a sequence of books which will re-unite Skye and Fergal (who meet in A Set of Lies) though they do not appear here.
Hostage to Fortune is a delightfully easy read. It follows the well-worn path of using a couple of clever amateurs to explain a situation that has been puzzling the professionals, in this case security officers in the Home office, for many a long year. Our amateurs, Skye and Fergal Shepherd, are a young and highly competitive couple. They have been married for just over a year and neither is yet keen to admit who is top dog.
This is the second time the youngsters have been engaged by the Home Office. Once again the situation they are asked to investigate – the disappearance of Diane Hammill, the keeper of a safe house in Dartmouth, Devon – is related to, but is by no means the precise conundrum that needs solving.
Right from the start it is obvious that with all the resources available to them the security services and the police must know the answers to the various crimes that are dangled in front of our heroes (including the murder of Warwick Eden, a rich far-right politician; the suicide/murder of young man whose father has been wrongly accused of, and then imprisoned for injuring a policeman by Warwick’s elder brother Barford; the death of Arjun a gay man who is killed when sailing with Warwick’s nephew) but do they receive any help? Oh no.
After they had worked out the intricate connections between the above crimes and have decided who has killed whom, Fergal and Skye are still not satisfied that they have solved the elusive riddle that they have discovered.
Against specific instructions to the contrary they travel to Spain where much, but not all, is explained. Indeed, Skye and Fergal succeed in revealing the answer to the real question Gordon Hamilton wanted answering without either them (or the reader) even realizing that they had done so. It is only right at the end of the book that we, along with Skye and Fergal learn why they were sent off to wade through a veritable labyrinth of crime that had its roots in the history of the Spanish Civil War. It is neither a question nor an answer that you would guess, so if you want to know what it is you will have to read the book.
There are many strands in this book. The interlinking stories of the main characters are told separately before they gradually coalesce into a comprehensive whole. Skye and Fergal are an entertaining couple whose natural tendency towards insubordination is more than fully manipulated by Gordon Hamilton, their devious controller at the Home Office.”
Angela Crowther, PromotingCrime.com
“I loved the book… I read it in less than a week I didn’t want it to end.”
“Despite knowing who didn’t commit the murder from the very beginning this is still a very clever and engaging ’whodunnit’ ’whydunnit’ and ‘howdunnit’” AC, Isle of Wight
“A great book. Gripping story with lots of false leads. Just when you think you have figured it out you find out you were wrong!! Highly recommended. Great for those lovely cosy nights reading under the duvet. Bet you don’t guess the ending.” SD, Somerset
“Very much a page turner, an intricate plot that moves across Europe and the UK, with intrigue and romance to boot. Very well crafted novel by an experienced author.” LM, Kent
“I loved the book my friend bought it for me while we were on holiday on the Isle of Wight. I read it in less than a week I didn’t want it to end.” EB, Berkshire
How did you get the idea for this book?
When I began to map out the plot of a book about obsession I imagined a young man, perhaps still a schoolboy, becoming obsessed with a girl he barely knew, then spending half a century stalking her through all the phases of her life. But as the book took shape the characters, David and Jane, decided for themselves that David was only a pawn in a much wider story. The question ‘if Jane didn’t murder the detective who did and how… and why?’ can only be answered when the truth about both her parents is known.
There’s a great deal about politics and the Cold War…
I love history and I try to put all my books in an historical perspective. In Her Parents’ Daughter, with the back stories beginning in the 1940s, 50s and 60s relations with the USSR and the Cold War was THE situation that dominated everything. I can remember a school assembly where we prayed that a nuclear war would not be started that day! It is an era that fascinates me and also it allows for a great deal of use of the imagination as so much is not, and will not be, known – and what is known is subject to a great deal of ambiguity. But this is not a ‘spy’ book. It is a detective story, centred around an obsession where people do what they do because of what they, and other people, did in those Cold War years.
You have said there will be a series of books…
In A Set of Lies, which I was writing at the same a time as this, I introduced Skye and Fergal as what can best be described as ‘investigative historians’. They are going to crop up in my books in the future. I also needed to create something – or someone – who would give them their tasks, someone a little mysterious but powerful, well-connected and clever. That is Gordon Hamilton and he is introduced here.
Have you started writing that series?
I have. Second Strand will be out soon with Skye and Fergal undertaking a task they have no idea Gordon is involved with.