Welcome to my stop on the Blog Tour for Chasing Ghosts by Madalyn Morgan, courtesy of Rachel’s Random Resources. Here’s a short summary of the book before my review…
Has Mitch left her for the woman he talks about in his sleep? Or is he on the run from accusations of wartime treachery?
Claire goes to France in search of the truth, aided by old friends from the Resistance.
The story begins in December 1949 as Claire and her daughter Aimée return home from a three-month stay in Canada. Her husband Alain (Mitch) Mitchell should have been on the flight with but hadn’t turned up at the airport. Mitch is suffering from shell shock due to his wartime experiences and has been receiving treatment at a clinic. Claire can’t think where Mitch could be and why he hadn’t made the flight. Had it something to do with someone called Simone – the name he’s been calling out in his sleep.
Soon after arriving in England Claire is persuaded to take Aimée and spend Christmas at Foxden with her sister and the rest of their family. Once Boxing Day had passed Claire left Aimée at Foxden and made her way home to Oxford, collecting her old papers on the way. Claire and Mitch were members of the Special Operations Executive during the war, working for the resistance in German occupied France—their story told in the previous book, China Blue. Mitch was captured but eventually escaped. The military believe Mitch was a traitor and has gone into hiding. Claire believes he’s having an affair. Then she learns Mitch’s Commander and RCAF intelligence have information suggesting Mitch is in France. Claire is determined to find Mitch and find out the truth.
Claire inhaled and let out a long calming breath. It wasn’t a decade ago, but it felt like a lifetime. She was a different person then, with only herself to worry about. Now she was a mother and a wife – and she was separated from both her child and her husband. Claire bit her lip. She had a long journey ahead of her. She must call on her training, be detached and committed to the job she had to do. If she let sentimentality get in the way, she wouldn’t get beyond the next town along the railway track.
Chasing Ghosts is the sixth book in the Dudley Sisters Saga. It kind of works as a standalone but, although Madalyn Morgan has done a good job of filling in the background, I did sometimes feel the lack of previous stories as far as the characters’ relationships and backstories were concerned. I’m not sure if that’s why I couldn’t quite connect with them.
Not having read the other books, it’s difficult to assess the level of character development, but keeping in mind that Claire’s work during the war must have been very dangerous, taking enormous amounts of courage and a lot of nerve, she seems emotionally weak in this story, regularly breaking down in tears and making snap judgements.
The plot is good and not what I was expecting, the period well researched. I found the first third or so a slow build up but the tension and drama increased after that. Parts of the narrative were unnecessarily detailed and took me out of the story slightly. My favourite part was reading about Claire’s adventures in France, the vivid description of the prison ruins was quite haunting. The fallout from Mitch’s treatment in Canada and the resulting twist was unexpected and made for a satisfying ending.
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