"The Traitor Among Us" An Elena Standish Novel by Anne Perry

Review by Joan Leotta

Before giving you the reasons why I like this particular book, I must confess to being an AVID Perry fan. I’ve read almost all her nearly one hundred novels. While some are better than others, I found this one, the latest in her Elena Standish series, to be among those I would catalog as “very good to excellent.” Elena Standish is Perry’s latest new continuing character.

I’ve enjoyed reading the series from the first, finding Perry’s grasp of the political and personal tensions felt by many in England and in the US in the time between the wars, even as they watched Hitler ascend to power in Germany.

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Image Source Ballantine Books
The character of Elena, the protagonist, has grown and is well rounded. Her relationships with others, both family and professional, are believable, and Perry is on sure footing with dialogue and, as always, with plot.

Our heroine, Elena, becomes an MI6 agent (turns out her grandfather in England was an MI6 agent and later head of MI6). Through the four books, we watch Elena take on a variety of assignments and grow as a person, learning to overcome the mistakes of youth (including an unfortunate love affair that costs Elena her civil service job). In this, the fifth installment, Perry takes us closer to the time of hostilities and even deeper into the world of British appeasement advocates and Nazi sympathizers. Perry also tackles the delicate line Elena must tread since she must solve a mystery that could well be laid at the door of her sister Margot’s fiancé or someone in his family. Perry takes us into the world of the “country house” between the two great European conflicts and provides an opportunity for us to learn more about Elena’s possible love interest.

In this book Elena does not shirk her task of finding a murderer and possibly a pipeline transmitting sensitive information to Germany. She does have to balance how much to reveal to her sister, Margot, if anything, in order to find the person connected to the death of the MI6 agent she has been asked to investigate. It’s particularly awkward because this is Margot’s first serious relationship since the death of her husband when she was 19, during WWI.

For me there is nothing not to like in this novel. I found it to be among Perry’s best overall and at the top of this particular series. If you have not read any of the four preceding novels in this series, you will not find yourself in the dark. Perry is a master at “catching up” the reader with a few deft strokes of the pen in the early chapters of the book, so the reader can plunge head-on into the mystery of the moment.

Sadly, however, this will be the last one in this series that will come from Anne Perry’s own pen. Her US Publishers, Random House have one more novel by Perry to release, a freestanding Christmas novel (a Perry tradition), but as far as I can see no more items remain in the pipeline for this series or the other recent series featuring Daniel Pitt, son of Charlotte and Thomas.

After that, unless Perry’s estate allows someone else to continue the characters, this is the last book of this series. So readers, cherish the read.   

Sidebar : Quote from Anne Perry’s website

Over 26 million copies of Anne’s books have now been sold worldwide to enormous critical and popular acclaim.  She is noted for her memorable characters, historical accuracy, and exploration of social and ethical issues. She won the coveted Edgar Award in 2000 for her short story Heroes (also nominated for a Macavity Award).  Anne also wrote introductions to Conan Doyle’s The Hound of the Baskervilles, Wilkie Collins’ The Woman in White and Baroness Orczy’s The Scarlet Pimpernel for The New Modern Library and edited and contributed to a number of anthologies.  She was awarded the Premio de Honor Aragón Negro in 2015 and selected by the Times as one of the twentieth century’s 100 Masters of Crime.  In 2020 she was Guest of Honor at Boucheron.

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Joan Leotta plays with words on page and stage. She performs tales of food, family, strong women. Internationally published as an essayist, poet, short story writer, and novelist, she’s a two-time Pushcart nominee, and twice a Best of the Net nominee. In she was a 2022 runner-up in Robert Frost Competition. Her work appears in Ekphrastic Review, Verse Visual, Verse Virtual, anti-heroin chic, Gargoyle, Active Muse, Silver Birch, Yellow Mama, Mystery Tribune, One Art, MacQueen’s Quinterly and others. Her poetry chapbooks are Languid Lusciousness with Lemon and Feathers on Stone. She is on the Board of the London Arts Based Research Centre and is an area representative for the North Carolina Writers Network.
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