If you asked me what my favorite types of novels were, I would say murder mysteries, WWII historical fiction stories, and fake dating romances, in that order. This book managed to be all three of these things, and I loved every minute of it!
Olive Bright, the definition of a plucky young heroine, is a pigeoneer living through the dark days of WWII, but has dreams of repeating the heroic escapades her mother had while driving an ambulance in the Great War. These desires are furthered by the fact her best friend George has left her behind in their typical English village to join the RAF, and Olive wants nothing more than to leave as well. Imagine her surprise then when the very day she bids farewell to George, she is approached by a handsome stranger who works for a mysterious organization known only as Baker Street, and he requests use of her pigeons on clandestine missions. And of course, there’s the whole murder business.
The story that ensues is part cozy village mystery, and part subterfuge and scheming. I particularly enjoyed the amateur sleuthing that Olive employed to investigate the murder of the village gossip, as well as the on-the-fly cover stories (such as a romance to her “boss”) to conceal her assistance to Baker Street. It was fun but with the undercurrent of unavoidable tragedy that comes from war. The story didn’t try to sugarcoat the horrors, but it did focus on the village and the “keep calm and carry on” attitude of its residents.
With charming asides such as a town-wide Pride and Prejudice reproduction and pigeons named after children’s book characters, I fell in love with the story and it’s ultimately satisfying mystery. It was the perfect distraction in a year that has had its own share of horrors, and it serves as a reminder that we can all get by with a little help from our friends. And pigeons, naturally.