The WWII London blitz forms the background for the cozy mystery, The Spies of Shilling Lane by Jennifer Ryan.Mrs. Braithwaite has been ousted from her position as leader of her village Women’s Voluntary Service and shunned because of the scandal of getting a divorce, yet her busybody tendencies remain. Part of her coping mechanism involves finding her only daughter who has moved to London to tell her this news and reveal a family secret before she hears it from a gossip.
On the train to London, she begins a perspective in her notebook that will return as she gets mixed up in the spying business, “How do you measure the success of your life?” Her first response “Social standing. Reputation. How the world sees you,” will not be the same as her last.
Betty had written five letters from London, but now is nowhere to be found. Mrs. Braithwaite enlists Betty’s timid landlord Mr. Norris to help find her, and they stumble into spying and danger.
Betty’s letters did not reveal that she has become a British spy, nor that she is involved with a handsome man. The daughter has characterized her mother as distant to all her London friends, but when twists and turns put each of them in danger, their fear makes them realize how important they are to each other. A bit of romance here and there and Mrs. Braithwaite’s last answer to her own question add interest to the story.
If you are looking to read something that will improve your intellect or cause deliberation, this is not it, but if you like a British wartime mystery with a hint of romance, this may be your cup of tea. (Pun intended.)