Banks, Carla - 'The Forest of Souls'
This beautifully romantic thriller is a real joy to read and I was very sorry to finish it. I was very moved by its story, which starts very dramatically when a historical researcher named Dr Helen Kovacs calls at a very old house where she hopes to examine some files left by the recently deceased owner.
A caretaker lets her into the house and, advising her that the lights seem not to be working, he shows her where the files are. She starts to examine them by torchlight and gets quite involved in the task, when suddenly she hears a noise, turns and is gruesomely garrotted and left to die in a pool of blood.
The caretaker is initially suspected of the deadly deed as he appears to be the only other person present but there were other noises in the house and subsequently the suspicion falls elsewhere.
Faith who is Helen's oldest friend, and who studied with her and knew her well is very upset about the death and is determined to investigate why she died. A journalist named Jake Denbigh, is writing a series of articles, on how immigration into the UK affected different ethnic groups, for a monthly publication. He was currently working on the experiences of wartime immigrants and to this end was interviewing Faith's grandfather concerning some of the topics that, coincidentally, Helen was researching, namely the effect of the Second World War on her relations.
There was a period in Eastern Europe in the late 1930s when people were more worried about the communists than the fascists and this is explored. The story involves a lot of flashbacks to events before and during the war, which is very fascinating. Faith and Jake get together and share resources in the investigation of the death and the novel finishes very dramatically.
A very good novel and I look forward to the next one by Carla Banks.
Terry Halligan, England