Old Flames is the second of John Lawton’s Inspector Troy mysteries, this time set in 1956, during an unprecedented official visit by Nikita Khrushchev. Troy, whose unusual background includes a very thorough knowledge of Russian, is pressed into service as an interpreter, security specialist, and quondam spy as a member of Khrushchev’s official British escort. Along the way, he meets (and even marries!) an old flame, is involved in a scandal that reaches all the way up to Prime Minister Anthony Eden and has transatlantic implications, and with all that, is required to solve the murder of a rather unpleasant middle-aged man.
Although I don’t seem to warm up to Lawton’s characters, I do find his novels suspenseful and engaging in terms of plot. I probably wouldn’t read them again (once I know the twist of a mystery, I need to love the characters to want to re-read) but they’re well worth at least one read. I shall be forging on with the series!
(Read from March 19-March 21, 2010)