Lexxi Kitty's Reviews > A Matter of Loyalty

A Matter of Loyalty by Anselm Audley
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Book received from both Netgalley and Thomas & Mercer for an honest review

I do not recall why I initially tried the first book in this series. I hadn’t read the author before. I’m not 100% certain now if I even know if the book would be a romance, or a spy book, or a mystery, or possibly all three. I do recall that I liked that book and liked the sequel. So we come to this third book in the series.

It’s not a spoiler to note that the author never intended this to be a three book series, but then that author also didn’t intend to die in between book two and three without even a first draft written. Nor is it a spoiler to note that the author who took over the third book, after his mother’s death, has no intention of continuing the series beyond this one additional book. But there are reasons for that – he had worked on the previous two books, and worked on this book before his mother’s death. He may or may not know where the series was intended to go, but only had the outline for this book. So, to the best of his ability, he completed the book for his mother.

This was a difficult book to enter. There seemed to be an amazingly large number of people bouncing around in it, several plot lines that didn’t seem necessarily interesting . . . etc. etc. But then, somewhere along the line, something ‘clicked’ in me and everything became quite interesting. Good solid plot, interesting spy mystery, and the separate plots, that I thought were more of an A/B/C etc. story on a television show (which do not have to intersect), actually turned out to have more connections than I had expected. It was still a large cast, though, and I still occasionally misplaced who exactly specific people were. There’s one specific section, I’m somewhat embarrassed to admit, wherein someone was talked to, talked with, was a large part of the scene and . . . I still haven’t a clue who that individual is/was/could be. I believe his name was Richard.

Right, so, what can I say about the book? It is an historical fiction set in a smallish village in England during the 1950s, and involves a mix of people – high class, mid-class, low-class; a mix of story lines (some mystery, some family-issues related, some spy related). The stories, for the most part, focus on those people, if you’ve followed the series up to now, already meet – those people who live in that old castle in that fictional small village in England called Selchester.

There’s Hugo and Georgia (or was that Georgina? Pfft, I forget now) Hawksworth who are brother and sister, though of vastly different ages (Hugo’s more like 30 something while Georgia is more like 12) and one, Hugo, is the guardian of the other, Georgia, because of the impact of World War II (father’s ship sank; mother was killed in the same bombing in London that trapped Georgia under debris). Hugo is and had been a spy – is/had been because he had been an active field agent until he was shot, and now works as an investigator. Georgia is a kid going to school. Both of those roles come up and are followed in this book.

Also present in the book is a Special Branch investigator, Jarret, who has come to the area to investigate a believed Soviet spy (which quickly becomes a murder investigation), though he isn’t one of the characters who has a point of view. Soo . . . there’s Gus and Polly, the Americans who are now the Earl, and whatever you call the daughter of an Earl, in Selchester. And Freya, she has a point of view, she’s a ‘bodice-ripper’ author, though tells everyone she’s currently writing a history of her family (she’s related to the Selchester Earl, the previous one, though since Gus is the son of that previous one, also related, somehow, to the present Earl). And, um, Vivian, who is putting on a play, and Saul, who is opening a gallery, and Emerson, who is a friend of Saul’s and had been ‘in the Service’ with Hugo, and Sonia, who is Freya’s cousin (and Sonia is the daughter of the previous Earl, though only step-sister to present Earl; different mothers), and . . and . . . well, I did say there were a ton of characters. I’ve barely scratched the surface. I’ve not even tracked down and reported on everyone who has a point of view in the book. Though everyone I’ve mentioned, so far, has previously appeared in the series. Oh, I’ll also note that Uncle Leo, the priest, also turns up (Hugo and Georgia’s uncle), and that Hugo’s girlfriend, Valerie, also makes several appearances.

Despite the massive crowd of characters, and the difficulty ‘getting into’ the book, this was a rather enjoyable book. Quite curious where the story might have gone from here, though, the readers will never know (unless some previously unknown notebook of notes is found, or something like that, though that seems quite unlikely (for reasons – mostly for the reason that the author, Anselm Audley, had noted that they didn’t have enough information to continue the series beyond this book)). This is/was a good book in terms of a spy novel, a mystery, and a historical fiction novel.

If I was to attempt to note things I found ‘negative’, I’d only really come up with three things: there really are way too many characters to follow, who have their own point of views present (and the afterword notes that some of the intended characters were cut); I never really understood the point of Valerie, and she always seemed to be held up as a negative . . . though I never could see why – because she preferred the city? Because . . . um . . . *shrugs*, though I always felt that way about the character, not just in this book; something about how the book was difficult to ‘get into’ though, other than bluntly stating that, I’m not sure how to word things.

So, good solid book. Enjoyable. Glad I was able to read it. And no it wasn’t a capital R romance.

Rating: 4.33

October 10 2017
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Reading Progress

September 12, 2017 – Shelved
October 5, 2017 – Started Reading
October 5, 2017 –
October 5, 2017 –
7.0% "It might be too long since I had read the prior books in the series. Finding it difficult to remember who the cast of thousands are. I remember the main critters, but the rest . . . bah. Over time some are coming back."
October 7, 2017 –
19.0% "This book keeps switching from 'wow there are just way too many characters to keep track of; and way too many plot lines' to 'wow this is quite interesting . . . oops, back to boring subplot - oh, it hooked up to interesting plot . . .'"
October 7, 2017 –
October 8, 2017 –
44.0% "It's not just the part that there are just way too many characters that's an issue; there's also the part where the author seems to be playing a game of constantly jumping from one character to another. Sometimes seemingly randomly, and sometimes right when things looked like they were going to get interesting with the characters left behind (so that the author could turn to a boring segment of little importance)."
October 9, 2017 –
October 10, 2017 –
October 10, 2017 – Finished Reading

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