Book Review: The Ways of the World by Robert Goddard

162800901919. The eyes of the world are on Paris, where statesmen, diplomats and politicians have gathered to discuss the fate of half the world’s nations in the aftermath of the cataclysm that was the Great War. A horde of journalists, spies and opportunists have also gathered in the city and the last thing the British diplomatic community needs at such a time is the mysterious death of a senior member of their delegation. So, when Sir Henry Maxted falls from the roof of his mistress’s apartment building in unexplained circumstances, their first instinct is to suppress all suspicious aspects of the event.

But Sir Henry’s son, ex Royal Flying Corps ace James ‘Max’ Maxted, has other ideas. He resolves to find out how and why his father died – even if this means disturbing the impression of harmonious calm which the negotiating teams have worked so hard to maintain. In a city where countries are jostling for position at the crossroads of history and the stakes could hardly be higher, it is difficult to tell who is a friend and who a foe.And Max will soon discover just how much he needs friends, as his search for the truth sucks him into the dark heart of a seemingly impenetrable mystery.

What I Thought:
As a book, The Ways of the World is right up my alley – crime thriller with a distinctly historical edge. As book one in the Wide World trilogy, it’s quite clear from the start that there are far too many threads to be wound up in one book alone, and it is left very open to accommodate the remaining books. This is fine for me, seeing as I picked the book up long after all three had been published, and didn’t have to wait, but I can see that it might have been annoying initially.

The historical research on the setting, Paris in 1919, is well done, but without shoe-horning every last bit of it into the text (which is a bugbear of mine) and the action is pretty much non-stop. James Maxted is very cocksure and some aspects of his character did grate a little, but I wonder if this was perhaps intended, as he is very young and sure of himself, particularly having survived the war, maybe that’s what makes him so gung-ho.

As I said, there are lots of little intrigues, some of which were definitely not tied up neatly at the end of book one, so I’m interested to see how the action in books two and three compares.

I received a copy of this book from Netgalley in return for an honest review.

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