A mystery novel set in wartime Bletchley Park. My idea of a perfect book. A £1 charity shop find made it even more so. But then I read it…
I’m really sorry to say that The Amber Shadows just didn’t quite hit the spot. But I’m also thinking that it might have been me, rather than the book at fault. Let me explain.
I have a fascination with Bletchely Park and have visited numerous times, amazingly even before it was officially opened as an amazing visitor attraction. I wouldn’t say that I am an expert, but I certainly know more than many about what went on there in war time and having visited and watched films like Enigma and The Imitation Game I guess I visualise the place in glorious technicolour.
In The Amber Shadows though one of the main things I took away was everything being dark, and in shadows. The work there was secretive. There were blackouts. It’s obvious really as to why things were all dark and mysterious, and the author has done a fantastic job of making it so, but it just didn’t really work with my image of everything. Like I say, it was me rather than the book at fault here I think.
The story tells of a young woman, Honey Deschamps, who works in Hut 6 at Bletcheley. One night a strange man steps out of the shadows near her billet and hands her a package containing pieces of Amber, The package carries a Russian postmark. We follow Honey as she tries to discover why she has been sent the amber, and who has sent it. In doing so there is a delve into various bits of wartime related history which were fascinating, but not so much about what life was really like working at Bletchely which is what I was hoping for more of.
I guess what I’m saying with all this is that it wasn’t quite the book I was looking for, and I was just after something else. The Amber Shadows is still a good book, but I feel like I’m still after a good bit of non-war related crime fiction that just happens to be set at Bletchely. Does such a thing exist?
The Amber Shadows by Lucy Ribchester is available to buy online here.