The name of the book is based on a quote from Macbeth which states, “Where we are, There’s daggers in men’s smiles.” This is part of the appearance versus reality motif in Macbeth. That same motif is present here and one could possibly argue in most good mysteries.
The story is set on the English Channel Island of Guernsey, which has an interesting history as well as a fascinating present. The Channel Islands were the only part of England that was occupied by Germany during World War II. The Germans had built many sites that remain there and that is one of the reasons that Epicure Films has decided to shoot a film based on an Italian aristocratic family there at the end of the war.
The story begins with the vandalism of some costumes and escalates into murder. The weapon is always a dagger – an interesting weapon that gives Detective Inspector Ed Moretti and his new partner Liz Falla a clue as to who the culprit may be.
Jill Downie, is known for her non-fiction work and historical novels. One of her books, “A Passionate Pen: The Life and Times of Faith Fenton,” received the Drummer General’s Award by Richard Bachmann of A Different Drummer Books. Another “Storming the Castle: The World of Dora and the Duchess”, received the Hamilton and Region Arts Council Literary Award for non-fiction. Ms. Downie has authored five historical novels and has had her plays performed at various festivals.
Given the author’s background, the fact that the book does an amazing job of describing the setting in Guernsey and the history of World War II in that area should not come as no surprise. Reading about movie making and aristocratic families is likewise always fascinating. All of the aspects of the book were perfect for an interesting mystery. This is the first book in the Moretti and Falla Mystery series and Ms. Downie has several others already in the works.
The main characters are intriguing. Their personalities emerge as the book progresses. I really liked this book and plan to read Ms. Downie’s future books. It did take me some time to get into the book. It started a little slow and built gradually, so if you are reading the book, hang in there – the book is worth it. Some of slowness at first may be due to the new setting, the history and the occasional use of Italian.
Four stars out of Five.
In accordance with FTC guidelines for reviewers, I would like to clarify that this book was provided to me by the author free of charge. I am not compensated by the author or publisher for my review. All they expect is an honest review of the work