It’s a real pleasure today to share my review of There Is No Going Home by Madalyn Morgan: independently published in July 2019, this excellent book is available both for kindle (free via Kindle Unlimited) and in paperback. The e-copy I read was my own, pre-ordered from Amazon – and my apologies to the author that it sat unread on my kindle for rather longer than I intended.
Having read – and thoroughly enjoyed – Madalyn Morgan’s first book, Foxden Acres, I then went on to read Chasing Ghosts – and think I might just have enjoyed it even more (you’ll find my review here). To find out more about Madalyn and her books, you might like to catch up on my feature from June 2018 – you’ll find it here, together with my review of Foxden Acres – although there are now seven books in the Dudley Sisters saga. And don’t be put off for a moment by the fact that the author’s books are part of a “saga”, because each book is complete in itself, and can be read as a stand-alone: technically, this latest book is a sequel to The 9.45 to Bletchley, but I haven’t managed to read that one (yet), and it really didn’t matter at all.
London, 1958, Ena recognises a woman who she exposed as a spy in WW2. Ena’s husband, Henry, an agent with MI5, argues that it cannot be the woman because they went to her funeral twelve years before.
Ena, now head of the Home Office cold case department, starts an investigation. There are no files. It is as if the woman never existed. Suddenly colleagues who are helping Ena with the case mysteriously die… and Ena herself is almost killed in a hit-and-run.
The case breaks when Ena finds important documents from 1936 Berlin that prove not only did the spy exist, but someone above suspicion who worked with her then, still works with her now.
Fearing for her life, there is only one person Ena can trust… or can she?
A spy thriller – now that might be many miles away from my usual reading, but I must say I thoroughly enjoyed every moment of this one. The whole era is so wonderfully recreated, with little touches of contemporary and domestic detail that transport you into the late 1950s, with reverberations of wartime intrigue and the growing shadow of the Cold War. The world of espionage is beautifully handled too – Ena’s work with the wartime “cold cases” putting her in mortal danger, its source the mystery at the story’s centre, along with her husband Henry’s work with MI5 complete with all its confusing smoke and mirrors.
Ena’s a quite wonderful heroine, totally driven by her quest to uncover the mystery behind the reappearance of her former colleague, totally undeterred as the danger comes considerably closer to home, even when her marriage becomes affected and colleagues die in mysterious circumstances. She constantly bends the rules of engagement, and I loved her strength and dogged determination – and all her interactions with others, that made her such a well-rounded personality and so engaging, and a character I found myself rooting for as the threats to her personal safety multiplied.
But although Ena herself always draws the eye and her actions drive the story, this book is filled with other very strongly drawn characters. I particularly enjoyed the portrayal of her two colleagues at the cold case department; and I really liked her relationship with Inspector Powell, perhaps one of very few characters she might just be able to rely on.
I really do want to talk about some of the cleverly handled small detail – particularly the Collins enigma, the way it emerges and the quest to solve it, that opens another fascinating dimension to the gripping story – but I don’t want to spoil the story for others, which would be quite unforgivable. The layering of the whole story is so superbly done – the surprises, the twists, the whole way in which things often aren’t quite what they seem – and the nail-biting tension steadily cranks up towards a satisfyingly dramatic climax, vividly written and cinematic in scope.
And I really do need to mention the sheer quality of the writing – I’ve enjoyed other books by the author, but this one really does move her into a different league. The whole story – the concept, and the way it’s developed – is thoroughly excellent, every scene vividly described, the dialogue authentic and real, the period detail perfect, with every new character well-developed, integral to the story and driving the action.
Highly recommended by me – and I must add that I was left with the thought that the whole story would make a quite perfect Sunday night tv drama…
About the author
Madalyn Morgan was an actress for more than thirty years working in repertory theatre, the West End, film and television.
Madalyn was brought up in a busy working-class pub in the market town of Lutterworth in Leicestershire. She was christened Madalyn Smith, the name she chose when she joined the actors union, Equity. Unfortunately, there was already an actress with that name, so with seconds to decide on another name Madalyn chose Morgan from a rum bottle. The pub was a great place for an aspiring actress and writer to live. There were so many characters to study and accents learn. At twenty-four Madalyn gave up a successful hairdressing salon and wig-hire business for a place at East 15 Drama College, and a career as an actress.
In 1990, Madalyn gave up acting for love and love gave her up in 2000. Rather than start again in the acting business, Madalyn became a radio presenter, taught herself to touch type, completed a two-year creative writing course with The Writer’s Bureau, and wrote articles for newspapers and magazines. After living in London for thirty-six years she has returned to Lutterworth, swapping two window boxes and a mortgage, for a garden and the freedom to write. And she is loving it.
Madalyn is currently writing her eighth novel. Her books are all available on Amazon – in paperback and for kindle.