Jack the Ripper in the 1880s. The sinking of the Lusitania during World War I. The British Royal Family. Modern day lovers enmeshed in a series of life-threatening events over which they have no control and of which they have even less comprehension.
Good Old Boat author Geoffrey Toye, a Welshman, weaves a fascinating tale of intrigue in his second novel, Telegram from the Palace. Because he’s a sailor, Geoffrey’s characters spend much of their time sailing the coasts off the British Isles and France as they evade capture and pursue villains. This is a sailor’s thriller. Geoffrey does not bow to the current practice of enlarging his potential audience by describing sailing activities or clarifying sailing terms. The book is full of sailhandling — all well done — with no pausing to explain things to the uninitiated. Hop aboard and hold on.
This thriller spans the century from Victoria’s to Thatcher’s England, weaving in a colorful cast of characters who are interlocked over several generations. Call it a re-interpretation of historical events, if you will, this book is based on facts as told by history but then is overlaid with several fictional plots complicated enough to keep any reader guessing and second-guessing as the novel unfolds with twists and turns.
It is not so much a who-dunnit as a why-dunnit, a device which Geoffrey has used in previous novels. The reader is not completely sure until the very end who the good guys are and what motivates protagonists and antagonists alike.
Readers on the North American continent will be just as involved in the plot as their cousins across the Atlantic, even though the plot revolves around events of historical significance in Great Britain. U.S. readers will particularly appreciate the British spellings and expressions. All English-speaking sailors will enjoy the excellent descriptions of sailing and navigating.
Get cozy. Pull your chair up closer to the fireplace. Enjoy a different approach to today’s thriller. And sail along vicariously with some rather likable characters while you’re at it.
Telegram From The Palace by Geoffrey Toye (Starborn Books, 2002; 334 pages)