“The Lost Empress” was published in 2014 and was written by Steve Robinson (http://www.steve-robinson.me). This is Mr. Robinson’s fourth novel in his “Jefferson Tayte” mystery series.
I obtained a galley of this novel for review through https://www.netgalley.com. I would categorize this novel as ‘PG’ as there is a little Violence. The novel is written in the third person and is set in contemporary London, England, as well as in 1914 London. The primary characters are Jefferson Tayte and Alice Dixon Stilwell.
Tayte is a genealogist who is hired to research an American woman’s great grandmother, Alice Dixon. He has reason to believe that she survived the sinking of the steamship Empress of Ireland. Then had taken on a new identity, changing her name from Alice Stilwell.
Tayte travels to England to look further into Alice Stilwell. He encounters anger with Alice Stilwell’s remaining relatives as Alice Stilwell was branded a spy and traitor in the days leading up to World War I. Tayte is run off the road when he leaves the relative’s home, then the next stop he tries to make is with an antique dealer who he finds has recently been murdered. Tayte soon decides that there is more to Alice’s history than meets the eye and there are those who are willing to kill to keep it secret.
Alice Stilwell is married and has two young children. Her father is an Admiral working at the Navy Department. She is forced by a German to start spying in order to protect her family. She finally has to flee to Canada in order to avoid the Germans and the police who want to arrest her.
The novel bounces between 1914 when Alice is forced to become a spy and present day. The threats to Alice’s family and her misadventures form an exciting sub-plot. Tayte’s investigations place him in peril on more than one occasion. I liked the final plot twist of the novel that connected the 1914 sub-plot with the current day plot. I enjoyed the 8+ hours I spent reading the novel. I give this novel a 5 out of 5.
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