The Amber Shadows: A Novel
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During the dangerous days of World War II, Honey Deschamps is spending her days transcribing decrypted messages at Bletchley Park, when she starts to receive bizarrely coded packages. When everyone is keeping secrets, who can you trust?
Bletchley Park, 1942: As World War II rages on, Honey Deschamps sits at her type-x machine, tediously transcribing decrypted signals from the German Army, doing her part to assist the British war effort. Halfway across the world, Hitler’s armies are marching into Leningrad, leaving a trail of destruction and pillaging the country’s most treasured artworks, including the famous Amber Room—the eighth wonder of the world.
As reports begin filtering into Bletchley Park about the stolen loot, Honey receives a mysterious package, hand-delivered from a man that she has never seen before who claims that he works at the Park as well. The package is postmarked from Russia, and inside is a small piece of amber. It is just the first of several such packages, and when she examines them together she realizes that someone, relying on her abilities to unravel codes, is trying to tell her something.
Honey can’t help but fear that the packages are a trap set by the authorities to test her loyalties—surely nothing so valuable could get through the mail during a time of war. And yet, something about the packages reminds her of stories that her brother used to tell her about her absent father, and when her brother is found brutally murdered on his way to visit Honey, she can’t help but assume that the events are connected. But at Bletchley Park, secrecy reigns supreme, and she has nowhere to turn for help….
A historical mystery novel!
The Amber Shadows by Lucy Ribchester starts off in December of 1942 at Bletchley Park. Honey Deschamps is on her way to her lodgings when she is stopped by Felix Plaidstow and his dog, Nijinksy. Felix states he works in Hut 6 in the park and he has a package for Honey that was misdelivered. Honey examines the package in the privacy of her room at Mr. & Mrs. Steadman’s (her skinflint landlors). The postmark has Cyrillic letters on it (Russian), and she finds a small square piece of amber inside. Honey ends up tossing the package into the trash. The next day she is at her desk decoding messages on her Typex machine when she receives another similar package. The amber reminds Honey about a missive she saw about a year ago regarding the Germans dismantling the Amber Room from the Catherine Palace and a story her brother told her about their father being its curator. Honey receives more of the mysterious amber packages. Are they from a lost treasure or is Honey being tested? Honey is unsure of who she should trust and turns to the mysterious Felix. Can they unravel the clues and solve the amber puzzle?
The Amber Shadows sounded like such an intriguing story. World War II, amber, coded messages, Bletchley Park, and a mystery. Unfortunately, the blurb was better than the novel. The book wandered and rambled on forever. It lacked focus. I was not a fan of the authors writing style (believe she is trying to set an atmosphere). Honey kept making comparisons between her situation and the movie Suspicion (with Cary Grant). I found it distracting (odd) and it did not enhance the story. I do wish to commend the author on her research and realistic portrayal of life at Bletchely. My rating for The Amber Shadows is 2 out of 5 stars (I did not like it). The mystery was lacking. It can easily be solved early in the story (it is obvious). Honey is lacking in her investigative skills. She makes very little progress until the end of the story when all is revealed. I struggled to wade through The Amber Shadows. I was never able to get into the story. The ending is very unsatisfying (made the whole mystery seem pointless). I was not a fan of the main character (I disliked Honey), mystery or writing.