Lucy Ribchester

The Amber Shadows

" accelerating sense of terror that gripped my attention from the first minute."


A chance meeting by two strangers in a wartime train sets into motion a plan to acquire a huge fortune.

It is 1942 and Honey Deschampes is a young woman working on the ultra-secret war effort at Bletchley Park, a country house set deep in the English countryside. Secrecy is all and few people know what anyone else is doing, although rumours night, Honey is walking home to her Spartan digs at the end of her shift when she is approached by a stranger, Felix, who delivers a parcel to her with foreign looking stamps and postmarked in Russia. This package contains a piece of amber. More packages follow with more amber, until she has a complete construction. She is puzzled as to what it can mean and who is sending her the parcels, but her chief suspect is her estranged father who may be exiled in Russia.

Honey has friends who help her at Bletchley and a beloved brother who is a dancer with ENSA. Her mother is a well-known opera singer. As she goes about her routine business, one friend disappears in strange circumstances and the stranger, Felix, appears at unexpected times. As she begins to suspect what is really happening, she calls on her brother for help and after that events escalate into a dramatic and frightening finale.

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There are lots of lovely touches in this book which bring to mind, in vivid detail, the atmosphere and privations of wartime living. Details of bathing arrangements in wartime digs made me cringe, used as I am to showers at the flick of a switch. Some of these details have been carefully gleaned from people who were there. The plot is well disguised and plays on Honey and her brother's memories of their father, who disappeared from their lives early on. He was a lover of Stravinsky and all things Russian, and also curiously interested in codes and cyphers. Could he be sending messages to Honey? How else would anyone know what the sender of the packages knows? Where is he? As Honey gets more involved in finding out the truth, she puts herself into even more danger. 'The Amber Shadows' is an exciting tale, full of chases in the dark through unfriendly and hidden territory. Suspense builds up as there is hardly anyone she can trust. Blackout conditions make everything much more scary. This is an exciting story with an accelerating sense of terror that gripped my attention from the first minute.

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