In A Matter of Loyalty by Anselm Audley and Elizabeth Edmondson, Hugo and his sister, Georgia, have now lived in Selchester for four months, and it is now January 1954, with another serious mystery facing Hugo. In the midst of being debriefed, a Hungarian defector who spent years in a nuclear plant in Siberia casually mentions knowledge of an accident in an experimental nuclear plant near Selchester, an accident that no one is supposed to know about. It appears they have a spy in their midst. Hugo investigates the case, but then Bruno Rothesay, one of the suspects disappears, making him seem the obvious mole. That is, he seems that way until Georgia and Polly, the daughter of the Earl of Selchester, spot a body in the river on their way to school, and it proves to be that of Rothesay. Hugo now has two different issues to investigate, but could they be two parts of the same problem? Could the true mole have murdered Rothesay?
This book is another great book in this series, and I am very disappointed to learn that Edmondson, who wrote the previous two books by herself, has died and can’t write any more books. I was touched by the epilogue in which Anselm Audley identifies herself as Edmondson’s daughter, who served as editor of all her mother’s books. When her mother died suddenly, in tribute to her mom, Audley wrote the book from the outline her mother left.
I really like the premise of the security services in the Cold War. The book clearly shows the authors have done their research, both into the history and into the science. I don’t generally understand issues of nuclear science, but in this book, the scientists explain the issues to Hugo, who knows nothing about nuclear science, making it more understandable to the reader. I also found it really interesting to learn about the nuclear program in England during the Cold War, since we only generally hear about the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. But we learn in the book that by 1954, the U.S. had frozen the U.K. out of its nuclear program, so it was even more important to the British to do their own nuclear research. I did get confused sometimes with the many names that Hugo deals with in doing his research into potential moles.
I loved the performance of Michael Page in creating the audio edition of this book. He has a voice that makes me think of espionage and intrigue. His voice oud perfect for this book, making it even more suitable for the selection of Page to perform this book.
A Matter of Loyalty kept me fascinated, though it did not come across as clearly as the previous two books. I appreciated the way the books all draw connections among several threads that run through the first two books before getting resolution in this book. The vividly drawn characters add to the character this book as well. I give it four stars.
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