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Friday, 21 August 2020

A Dangerous Goodbye - Fliss Chester | Book Review

Thank you to Net Galley and Bookouture for the advanced reader copy of A Dangerous Goodbye by Fliss Chester for review.

1944. While war rages in Europe, Fenella Churche is doing her bit in the green fields of England. But when she finds a letter addressed to her on the scrubbed farmhouse table, she knows the news won't be good. She hasn't heard from her fiancé Arthur since he was posted to France on a dangerous undercover mission, and from his very first words she knows he may not be coming back. I fear this may be my last letter to you, my darling, Arthur writes. Fen won't give up hope and calls the war office, wanting to know if Arthur is still alive; they refuse to tell her anything. Searching for answers, she returns to his letter, but parts of it just don't make sense. Through her tears, Fen realises that her darling Arthur is giving her all the clues she needs to find out what happened to him.
1945. With the war behind them and nothing left for her in England, Fen travels to the deceptively pretty French village where she thinks Arthur might be, but there's no sign of him. She's close to giving up when she finds his silver cigarette case and another letter full of clues. But when the local priest is killed, it's clear someone wants to keep wartime secrets buried. If Arthur, a brilliant spy, was outwitted and betrayed, can Fen stay alive long enough to find out what happened to the man she loves?

I've been a fan of historical fiction for many years, having read many novels set during World War Two and completed my dissertation on some of Philippa Gregory's novels, so when I saw the blurb for A Dangerous Goodbye, my interest was instantly piqued. Although being set in a time period that I am familiar with, the premise of this novel was slightly different, being a mystery that needs solving. I really felt for the main character Fen; she has been left in the dark as to what has happened to her fiancé Arthur, with just a few clues to go off. Their relationship was greatly influenced by their love of doing crossword puzzles and they'd even create clues for each other to solve. This plays quite a big part at the beginning of the novel, as Arthur's clues to Fen were written in a crossword style. Fen follows the clues to a small village in France, which is struggling post-war, celebrating liberation but second guessing those who may have collaborated with the enemy. She joins an interesting group at a vineyard, which has some ties to Arthur and his fate. Slowly she starts discovering small clues which tell her that she's looking in the right place, but soon other people start to die, suggesting that Fen might be getting a little too close to the truth.

Admittedly, the novel is a little slow to get started, but once the mystery started to unfold, I couldn't put the book down. I just needed to know what was going on! A Dangerous Goodbye is a great, entertaining mystery set in a complex historical setting. The plot was really good and easy to follow, not too complex, but I loved that Fen was trying to effectively solve two mysteries simultaneously. It was great fun trying to solve the crossword clues as she got them. 

I think Fen is an interesting character to get to know. She is initially a little naive in terms of how the French feel following the country's liberation, but I feel like she definitely has some growth throughout the novel, which she could easily continue during the rest of the series. She's intelligent and I loved seeing how she unpicked the clues from Arthur and the greater mystery. 

I gave A Dangerous Goodbye 4 out of 5 stars and would really recommend it to fans of historical fiction and mysteries - with spies, codes, murder and intrigue, what more could you want?! I loved trying to second guess what was happening, and being surprised by the twists and turns. A Dangerous Goodbye is the first book in the Fen Churche Mystery series. I'd be really interested in picking up the next book in the series, to see how it continues. If you have read this book, or are interested, I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

Love Lexie

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