It's 1919 in England and the Great War is over, but its shadow still looms large over England and all of Europe. Verity Kent is one of those struggling with a new life and her attempts to find a new normal. She's grounded in the here and now, but when a friend asks that she attend a seance, she agrees. Verity is a skeptic, to say the least, so when the medium channels a woman Verity once worked with in Belgium during the war, her suspicions are raised. Why would the medium make mention of a woman who worked as an anti-german spy? Someone Verity knew only by a code name and who she's not seen since the war? Verity worries that the answers to the questions mean that the woman is now in danger. But before she can question the medium further, she is murdered. Deciding that her only recourse to make sure the woman is safe, Verity makes a trip back to Belgium to retrace her war-time activities and try to save her friend.
This novel is not only an intriguing puzzle of a mystery, it's also a meticulous exploration of the lingering effects when a war has torn a country apart. Verity's trip across the battlefields of Belgium make clear that while the fighting has stopped, the recovery is going to take years. Cities leveled by bombs don't just pop back up again. Battlefields where hundreds dies (perhaps thousands) still have smell of the dead months later. Even the bombs remain in some cases. I was intrigued and caught by the mystery of just what was going on, but I wanted to keep reading for the people and the descriptions. So well done. If you've not read the first book in this series, This Side of Murder, I'd suggest starting there. And if you're a fan of Anna Lee Huber's other historical mystery series featuring Lady Darby, be on the lookout for her new one in that series, An Artless Demise (due out next year and which was also excellent btw).