A Lily of the Field: A Novel by John Lawton | Paperback | Barnes & Noble
Lily of the Field

Lily of the Field

4.4 11
by John Lawton

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Publishers Weekly
Lawton has divided his atypical seventh Inspector Troy thriller (after Second Violin) in two. The first part, "Audacity," spans the years from 1934 to 1946, ranging from Vienna before the Anschluss to the site of the A-bomb test in the New Mexico desert. A straight historical narrative, it includes some powerful scenes, especially those at the infamous Auschwitz concentration camp, where musical prodigy Méret Voytek has been incarcerated, despite her not being Jewish. Robert Oppenheimer's role in developing America's nuclear weapons program proves relevant to the book's second half. In part two, "Austerity," set in 1948 London, Insp. Frederick Troy looks into the gunshot murder in the Underground of André Skolnik, a painter suspected of being a Soviet sleeper agent. Voytek, who survived Auschwitz, turns out to have a link to Skolnik. Those expecting a conventional crime novel should be prepared for two distinct stories with overlapping characters, only one of which involves a criminal investigation. (Oct.)
Library Journal
This is Lawton's seventh Inspector Troy novel (after Second Violin), but chronologically it is the third in the series. In 1934 Vienna, ten-year-old Meret Voytek becomes the cello protégé of Victor Rosen. Rosen flees to London ahead of the Nazis, but Meret remains, rising in musical circles until the Germans send her to Auschwitz in 1944 to play in the camp orchestra. The Soviets rescue her only to blackmail her and send her to London as a spy. Meret collaborates with Rosen and Hungarian physicist Karel Szabo, who's working with Robert Oppenheimer on the atomic bomb project. Troy enters the picture in 1946 when a murder investigation leads him to Rosen, Meret, and their musical performance code. Throughout this series, Lawton skillfully portrays the mood and stark reality of Europe in the 1930s and 1940s, from concentration camp to freedom in London, from prewar glitter to postwar dreariness and rationing. VERDICT Legitimately compared to John Le Carré (although Alan Furst and Philip Kerr fans might enjoy him as well), Lawton vividly limns a world weariness contrasted with earth-shaking historical events, all the while unraveling a complex and compelling mystery that will not be quickly forgotten. Highly recommended.—Roland Person, formerly with Southern Illinois Univ. Lib., Carbondale

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