by Clare Langley Hawthorne
Unlikely Traitors is the third third book in the Ursula Marlow Mysteries and takes us to 1913 London, where Ursula Marlow thought she was done with death, but when her fiancé, Lord Wrotham, is arrested on charges of treason, her world is turned upside down. It is the winter of 1913, and the British Parliament, unsettled on the question of Home Rule for Ireland, is shaken over allegations of a plot to sell naval military secrets to Kaiser’s Germany and liberate Ireland from English rule. Ursula must work together with Chief Inspector Harrison to uncover the truth about Lord Wrotham’s involvement, as well as his mysterious past.
I was immediately engaged from page one. The protagonist is skillfully revealed through the perceptions of others and through her own actions and choice of dialogue. It is shown, not told, how ethical and moral she is. And wickedly funny. I loved being caught by surprise with a few of her comments.
The thrust of the story begins with Ursula setting off to find the Admiral who can clear her fiance’s good name, and, well, avoid the noose on the side. The peripheral scene descriptions of London, Germany and Ireland nicely match the tone of the moment.
Stepping carefully through multiple lies and deception, Ursula finds herself swimming in a growing pool of distrust and the author has us even doubting the integrity of Lord Wrotham. Have we been fooled? Has Ursula?
Flinging Ursula one complication after another lets us see her fortitude, fierce determination, and high values. Escalation of events and increasing character urgency gives us a breathless ride to the finale.
Although I did not pick up on any chemistry between Ursula and Lord Wrotham, the plot and skillful storytelling has me ordering books one and two for a guaranteed good night of reading. This clean story, fascinating time period and political subject, is wonderfully presented. The characters are rich and interesting. Definitely recommended.
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