The Secret Guests

Benjamin Black. Holt, $27 (304p) ISBN 978-1-25013-301-4
An intriguing premise can’t save this plodding what-if historical thriller from Edgar-finalist Black (Wolf on a String), the pen name of John Banville. During the Battle of Britain, with London under steady assault from German bombers, George VI decides that his daughters, 14-year-old Elizabeth and 10-year-old Margaret, should be moved from Buckingham Palace to a place of safety. The princesses are transported in the dead of night to the neutral Republic of Ireland, where they are to live, under pseudonyms, at the Duke of Edenmore’s isolated estate in County Tipperary. In exchange for that accommodation, Britain will supply Ireland with regular shipments of coal. An MI5 agent, Celia Nashe, who’s charged with their protection, accompanies them. Though the identities of the girls is a closely guarded secret, Celia fears that the truth will be uncovered, placing them in peril from Irish nationalists eager to score a major propaganda coup by attacking or abducting them. A romantic subplot involving Celia fails to engage, and the anticlimactic ending disappoints. Fans of this gifted writer will hope for better next time. Agent: Ed Victor, Ed Victor Literary Agency (U.K.). (Jan.)
Reviewed on : 10/21/2019
Release date: 01/14/2020
Genre: Mystery/Thriller
Library Binding - 978-1-4328-8071-2
Paperback - 304 pages - 978-1-250-78760-6
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