The Inspector Troy novels by John Lawton were selected by Time Magazine as one of the ‘Six Detective Series to Savour’ and was named by the Daily Telegraph as one of the ‘Fifty Crime Writers to Read Before You Die.’ A Lily of the Field is the eighth in the ‘Inspector Troy’ series and is, in my opinion, the best yet. It is written with a lighter touch. As usual it is meticulously researched, Lawton takes us effortlessly from Vienna, to The Isle of Man, Auschwitz and Paris, through Canada to New Mexico. We are introduced to the world of classical music and musicians. We eavesdrop on physicists discussing the material needed to make an atomic bomb.
Part one, "Audacity," opens in 1934 Vienna. Concert pianist Viktor Rosen, a Jew in exile from Germany, teaches Meret Voytek, a ten-year old cello prodigy, but three years later as the Nazis approach Vienna, Rosen packs up his possessions and leaves for London.
Meret is not Jewish but sees the repercussions for the city’s Jews and her orchestra becomes a division of the Hitler Youth. Later she is wrongly arrested as a political prisoner and is sent to Auschwitz. Viktor Rosen and Hungarian physicist Karel Szabo are sent to the British internment camp on the Isle of Man. Here they join an incongruent group that includes Rod Troy, brother of Inspector Frederick Troy.
The second part of the book "Austerity" aptly describes London in1948. Troy is called from Scotland Yard. A man has been shot and killed on the platform of an underground station on the Northern Line. The gun was a palm sized custom-made pistol, once encrusted with jewels and the silencer was a potato. The victim was a second-rate painter, or was he? Troy is an observant and persistent investigator, he links all the incongruent threads in a book that is well worth the reading.
If you haven’t read any of the Troy novels I recommend them all, but it can be a confusing journey since they are written out of sequence. Here they are in chronological order; Second Violin, Bluffing Mr Churchill, Black out, A Lily of the Field, Old Flames, Flesh Wounds, A Little White Death.