I enjoyed Jan Edward’s Bunch Courtney’s first adventure so much that I decided to read the second book next.
In Her Defence begins six months after the end of Winter Downs. The so-called phoney war is becoming a thing of the past, rationing is biting and the black-out is causing a few problems despite the onset of summer and the lighter nights.
Another issue to raise its ugly head is xenophobia. Anyone with a foreign sounding name or accent is a target for the frightened locals. The German army is marching relentlessly through Europe and soon there is only the Channel between the Sussex inhabitants and the enemy.
Starting explosively with the death of a young Dutch woman in a crowded pub in which Bunch just happens the be having lunch, she is then contacted by an old school chum whose father has just been poisoned leaving her homeless and penniless. The two had been working in Germany for some time and are now under suspicion by others. Bunch takes her in but soon finds her friend’s behaviour suspicious and disquieting.
In the meantime life goes on and Bunch has issues with the new CO living in her family home. He and the men under his command are taking liberties and abusing the property, Chamberlain stands down and Churchill takes over and advocates internment camps for all foreign nationals exacerbating the mistrust of anyone with a foreign background and the number of attempts on life and those resulting in deaths mounts up.
Neither Bunch nor the detective on the cases, Chief Inspector Wright believe in co-incidences and end up working together to find out who is behind the dreadful deeds.
The book is a ripping yarn delicately interlaced with historical fact and beautifully written. And a neat twist – but no spoilers!
Well worth 5 stars.