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A Darker Reality: An Elena Standish Novel


A Darker Reality: An Elena Standish Novel

The release of any new book by British author Anne Perry is typically cause to rejoice as you know you are getting a fabulous read that is perfectly plotted. Her most recent novel, A DARKER REALITY, is the third installment in her series featuring Elena Standish, a bright young woman who is a huge camera enthusiast and just happens to work for MI6.

The year is 1934, and the horrors that would shortly turn into World War II are spinning all around Europe. However, the murder that drives the book’s narrative actually takes place on U.S. soil. We witness the Standish family pulling up to the mansion-sized house in the suburbs of Washington, D.C. that belongs to Elena’s grandparents on her mother’s side. As an intelligence up-and-comer, Elena knows she can make some great connections in D.C. while celebrating her grandparents’ 60th wedding anniversary.

"A DARKER REALITY is full of Anne Perry’s trademark moral quandaries and historical detail that instantly brings credibility to the story but also makes it feel like an actual slice of world history."

Elena must feel like a kid in a candy store as the attendees of this gathering are a who’s-who of D.C. and government types, including FDR and First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt. She is introduced through her parents to Harmon Worth and his wife, Lila. The Worths are tight with her grandparents, especially Harmon, a distinguished scientist, and her grandfather Wyatt, a business expert. It is safe to assume that their relationship is probably yielding something important while war is looming over the nation.

Elena senses that Lila has something big going on, which is making her a touch preoccupied. As Elena continues to mingle, she comes across some guests sharing opinions on what is going on with the world, and it disturbs her. One woman states, “We all mean to keep this country safe from Communists, left-wingers, Jews, and, of course, the blacks. Herr Hitler will stop them sweeping across Europe.”

Suddenly, a chauffeur breaks into the party to announce that Lila has been run over by a car in the parking area and is dead. Elena’s testimony is especially valuable to Captain Miller, who is running the murder investigation, since she was one of the last people to speak with Lila. Elena’s boss had hoped that she would have a nice vacation in the States, but now she is in the middle of a serious global situation that most likely will involve MI6 at some point.

First and foremost, the authorities need to determine if the murder was personal or professional. As it turns out, Lila was well aware of the work that her husband was doing in the area of nuclear fusion --- think the Manhattan Project --- and may have known more than she let on, which obviously made her a target for somebody. Further digging indicates that Lila was in fact a British spy.

Shock and horror hit Elena when her grandfather is taken in as the initial person of interest based on his relationship with the Worths. Elena would like to know what it was he never told anyone that is now costing his family a heavy price. Is it possible that he had a secret life he couldn’t share with them? She must trust in him and do her job, which hopefully involves clearing his name.

Working seemingly against the clock, Elena gets deeper and deeper into the case and the huge ramifications surrounding it. She may have to face up to the role that her grandfather may have played not only in the murder but in whatever leverage is being sought to change the balance of WWII.

A DARKER REALITY is full of Anne Perry’s trademark moral quandaries and historical detail that instantly brings credibility to the story but also makes it feel like an actual slice of world history.

Reviewed by Ray Palen on October 1, 2021

A Darker Reality: An Elena Standish Novel
by Anne Perry