A Lily of the Field (Inspector Troy Series)

A Lily of the Field (Inspector Troy Series)

by John Lawton

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Overview


Spanning the tumultuous years 1934 to 1948, John Lawton's A Lily of the Field is a brilliant historical thriller from a master of the form. The book follows two characters—Méret Voytek, a talented young cellist living in Vienna at the novel's start, and Dr. Karel Szabo, a Hungarian physicist interned in a camp on the Isle of Man. In his seventh Inspector Troy novel, Lawton moves seamlessly from Vienna and Auschwitz to the deserts of New Mexico and the rubble-strewn streets of postwar London, following the fascinating parallels of the physicist Szabo and musician Voytek as fate takes each far from home and across the untraditional battlefields of a destructive war to an unexpected intersection at the novel's close. The result, A Lily of the Field, is Lawton's best book yet, an historically accurate and remarkably written novel that explores the diaspora or two Europeans from the rise of Hitler to the post-atomic age.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780802145468
Publisher: Grove/Atlantic, Inc.
Publication date: 10/18/2011
Series: Inspector Troy Series , #7
Pages: 400
Sales rank: 598,372
Product dimensions: 5.52(w) x 8.36(h) x 1.08(d)

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A Lily of the Field (Inspector Troy Series) 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 15 reviews.
GarySeverance on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
John Lawton¿s seventh novel in the British Inspector Troy thriller series is an interesting story of the interaction of World War II, music, and the development of the first atomic bomb. The time spans the years from the 1930s to the period just after the war when London was still recovering and rations were limited. In post war London, Jewish immigrants with artistic and scientific talants tried to make new lives after the unspeakable horrors of Nazi actions. In the novel, Jewish and expatriate musicians and physicists come together following their separate destinies in the reconstructing British city. The intrigue of Russian imperialism involves the use of these almost lost souls as spies. This inevitably leads to betrayal, murder, and suicide, legacies of survival of extermination camp internment.The first half of A Lily of the Field develops these themes leaving the characters in limbo. Inspector Troy¿s work becomes the focus of the novel. He is a systematic and persistent member of the old Scotland Yard who dominates the story when murder occurs in a crowded Metro station. He is a young stoical copper at this time of the thriller series dedicated to his police. This is unusual because his family is wealthy enough for him to go into any occupation and he is better educated than most of his colleagues. The second half of the novel is a police procedural and an abrupt change of pace and scope from the first half. The mystery of the Metro murder unfolds and remains interesting to the end. Characters from the beginning chapters are involved in the descriptions of Troy¿s police work providing a good structure for the novel.My impression as a reader is that Lawton has exhausted some of his enthusiasm for Inspector Troy. The character seems sketchy and is brought to the reader in a patchwork from previous novels. Because of prior knowledge, fans of the series may enjoy the novel more than the first time reader of Inspector Troy¿s adventures. I recommend that the reader new to Lawton¿s work read one of the earlier novels in the series before reading A Lily of the Field. The book is well-written and entertaining, and obviously Lawton is a very talented writer. There is a good deal of period British slang and allusions that may put off the reader who does not have a fuller context for Troy¿s motives.
maneekuhi on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The last (??) of 7 in Lawton's series about Troy, a Scotland Yard cop/chief from the late 1930's to the early 60's with a heavy emphasis on the war years. Two question marks because there may not be an 8th book (what more is there to add?) and the second question mark because other books in the series leapfrog the action here, most of which takes place in the 40's. There are two story lines - the first part dealing with characters who wind up on the wrong side of the barbed wire. A lot of Holocaust stuff here, more than just story background. I have read an awful lot about about the Holocaust, and this book doesn't add anything new (can there be anything "new"?, I don't know). The second half is good Troy stuff, a bit of crime fiction, history, social mores, spying, development of the Bomb, and a lot of examination about why some of the characters did what they did, and perhaps not enough reflection on some of Troy's actions, e.g., escorting a confessed murderer to the border and waving bye-bye. A good book but not up to the usual. And I think Lawton gave the answer to my question above in Ruby's note to Troy.
smik on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
"Consider the lilies of the field how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin"Matthew 6:28I think perhaps my reading of this book suffered from the fact that the series this is part of is already well underway. I definitely didn't enjoy it as much as my friend and fellow blogger at CRIME SCRAPS REVIEW.In the first half of the book Lawton introduces us to a rich cavalcade of characters all affected by the rise of the Third Reich and the advance of Hitler's troops into Poland and Austria. Some, Jews, Gentiles, Viennese, Poles, flee to England as early as 1935 ahead of the advance. Others are snatched off the streets and put onto trains taking them to Auschwitz.Some meet again in England when they are rounded up into internment camps and then shipped off to Canada. Others meet in Auschwitz. Some survive because of their talents, others because they sell their souls to the devil, some because they do both.And then the war ends and we are back in England and the crime fiction part of the novel begins with the murder on a tube station platform of one of the refugees and the subsequent involvement of Freddie Troy of Scotland Yard, his own family Russian refugees just thirty years before.I think the richness of the information in the first half of the novel made it hard for the reader to decide what was important and what wasn't, what did I need to remember for later reference? Looking at the two halves of the novel, I think perhaps the author had a problem in deciding what he was writing: a historical fiction about the dreadful events of the Holocaust, or a murder mystery set in a Britain still under rationing and full of very confused,damaged, and often eccentric people.But where I am torn is that this is a novel that makes you think, and, as readers of this blog will know, this is something that I value highly in my reading. A LILY OF THE FIELD presents scenarios that were new to me, and situations that I have not given much thought to before. The historical detail is rich and authentic. I think perhaps it was because there was so much detail that I had a problem in achieving focus and I found myself wondering in the first half of the novel when the crime fiction was going to kick in. It seemed that in the face of such inhumanity an "ordinary" murder would be very low key.Freddie Troy is an interesting and quirky character who really operates by his own rules and his own sense of justice. He's a maverick in a world that is trying to establish order.
krbrancolini on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Two Russian spies liviing in London in 1948 are talking. Viktor is telling Andre Slotnik that he "wants out" and Andre is telling Viktor that "the Communist Party of the Soviet Union simply doesn't work that way." This scene is so important that author John Lawton uses it twice in A Lily of the Field, as the Prologue to part 1, called "Audacity,: and again as the opening chapter of part 2,called "Austerity." "Audacity" spans 1934 to 1946, introducing characters who will either show up or influence events in post-war London, the scene of "Austerity." "Austerity" picks up in 1948, with everyone trying to find a new normal in a city where there is still rationing and widespread deprivation. This book covers familiar ground for those who read World War II and Holocaust fiction, but with an interesting new twist. On February 14, 1944 -- her twentieth birthday -- Viennese cellist Meret Voytek finds herself in the wrong place at the wrong time. She is arrested and sent to Auschwitz; her arrest is eerily similar to the way in which Sophie ends up deported to Auschwitz in Sophie's Choice, by William Styron. Meret survives by playing cello in a women's orchestra in the camp. She survives the war and ends up in London with her former teacher and famous musician Viktor Rosen. "Austerity" is a fast-paced police procedural, with espionage at the center of a murder in the London Underground. I found the characters to be fascinating, both the continuing characters from other books in the series, such as Inspector Troy and his MP brother Rod; and the new characters, especially Meret Voytek and Viktor Rosen. I knew that Russian spies were recruited in Great Britain -- this is the subject of another book in the Troy series, Old Flames, set in the 1950s -- but I didn't know that they were also recruited from those fleeing Nazi Germany and other occupied countries. Lawton does an outstanding job of weaving historical background and fact into a page-turner of a murder mystery. A Lily of the Field is atmospheric and tightly plotted. I've read reviews that found some of the plot elements to be far-fetched, but I was able to suspend disbelief sufficiently. I also enjoyed the whole world of musicians and classical music. By the end, the loose ends were neatly tied up and I found the conclusion to be extremely satisfying.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Another Inspector Troy novel that is as good as all the others. What a wonderful series.
Lenshead More than 1 year ago
Must read!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
macabr More than 1 year ago
A LILY OF THE FIELD - John Lawton The prologue is set in a park in London, either in February or March, 1948. Two men meet to discuss the future of one. "It had not been the hardest winter..War. Winter. He had thought he might not live through either. He had..This winter would not kill him. The last would. And all the others that had preceded it." Viktor Rosen had come to tell Andre Skolnik, someone he had known for much of his life, that he had to stop. It is an audacious statement. Andre Skolnik responds, bringing Viktor back to their real world, "You cannot just stop. You cannot simply quit. What was it you think you joined all those years ago?..the Communist Party of the Soviet Union simply does not work that way." The first section of the book is termed "Audacity". It is February, 1934 and in Vienna those who have been paying attention are preparing for the change that is inevitable. Hitler has taken over Germany and it is only a matter of time before he claims Austria, especially Vienna, as part of his Thousand-Year Reich. Some German Jews have come to Vienna thinking there would be safety and for a few years, it seemed this would be so. Viktor Rosen is one of the most famous pianists in Europe. Imre Voytek arranges for Rosen to give his ten-year old daughter, Meret, music lessons. Meret is a prodigy, a cellist whose second instrument is the piano. Viktor is a pianist whose second instrument is the cello. The music lessons will impact their lives. Three years later, Viktor flees to England before the Germans march into Austria. Meret's life has centered around her lessons with Viktor but very soon after the Anschluss, she realizes just how prescient Viktor was. The youth orchestra becomes part of the Hitler Youth and Meret willingly goes along with the rules until, one day, a chance encounter with a boy from the orchestra pulls her into the Nazi machine. Meret is transported to Auschwitz where her talent saves her life. She becomes the cellist for the Ladies' Orchestra of Auschwitz. When the Russians advance on the camp at the end of the war, Meret is protected because even the Russians know who she is. The second section of the book is "Austerity". Meret is re-united with Viktor in England after she has spent time in Paris. Her talent and Viktor's combine to bring them the same adulation they had received in Vienna. But, although the victors in the war, England is a difficult place to live. Everything is still rationed and life is not easy but Meret and Viktor are established as part of that class of people those talents set them apart from, and above, their new countrymen. It is in England that Freddie and Rod Troy come into the book. Freddie is called to investigate the murder of a painter, Andre Skolnik. There are no clues, no witnesses so Freddie asks his brother, Rod, if anyone in the ex-pat community knows who he is. When Skolnik is identified, the Troy brothers find their lives becoming more complicated. The lives of Viktor and Meret run on a parallel path with that of Karel Szabo, an Hungarian physicist, who was interred on the Isle of Man with Rod Troy. Szabo is taken to Canada and then to the United States to work on the Manhattan Project. At the end of the war, he, too, comes to London with a head full of secrets that both sides in the new Cold War want desperately.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
harstan More than 1 year ago
"Audacity". In 1934 as Germany turns increasingly violent against minorities, Vienna continues to be a sea of music as ten years old music prodigy Meret Voytek and her teacher Viktor Rosen can testify. However, over the next decade, the Nazi assault across the continent destroys the fine arts. Although she is not Jewish, cellist Meret Voytek ends up in Auschwitz where she survives until the concentration camp is liberated. "Austerity". In 1948 someone murders Russian artist Andre Skolnik in the London Underground. Police Inspector Frederick Troy leads the investigation and quickly finds circumstantial evidence that leads to the probability that the victim was a Soviet sleeper agent awaiting his assignment. Troy also uncovers a tie between the concentration camp survivor Voytek, and the alleged Soviet spy Skolnik, but the motive remains out of reach. The latest Inspector Troy historical mystery (see Second Violin) is a great tale that ironically leaves the series star as a second chair support role to the star cellist. The story line is actually two interrelated novellas with the tie being Voytek. Readers will enjoy this profound tale that takes the audience from the beginning of the Nazi aggression into the beginning of the Cold War with the police procedural only occurring in the second half. Harriet Klausner
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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