It’s the late winter and early spring of 1940. James and Rachel Given have moved from England to a small town in Brittany. James has been a policeman, but he’s left the force; too much reality and too much evil that always seemed to find new life. They’re now working and living on a farm, helping the farmer with planting and sales in the weekly market.
France is at war with Nazi Germany, but the war still seems far away. James has been asked by MI5 to keep an eye on anything that might look like German fifth column activity. He sends his disguised reports to a stamp collecting store in Paris. And for a time, things are quiet. James and Rachel even start attending the local Catholic church; they’re both Jewish, and they have false identity papers that might get them out of immediate trouble if the Germans come but won’t last much beyond that.
Then the town librarian dies in what may or may not have been a suspicious accident. The local policeman and the mayor prefer it to be an accident, but James himself isn’t sure. His wife urges him to look into it. And then he learns that the librarian is a former MI5 agent and that she had come across something, or someone, that might be an enemy agent.
A man from outside the area has taken a room in town and been asking questions about local military bases. He’s found with his throat slit, but the murderer may have been local patriots or another enemy agent. With local police approval, James slowly plows through the case, helped by a teenaged girl who takes violin lessons with Rachel. And all the time the threat of invasion is growing.
Where Every Man by British writer Charlie Garratt is the story of James, Rachel, and the French village where they live. The author does a fine job of slowly building suspense, creating a number of possible suspects, and using the menace of the war to underscore the tension. And he makes the narrative personal for James by locating close relatives some 30 miles away, an uncle, aunt, and cousin who have already fled the Nazis once and now face having to do it again.
Garratt is the author of three previous Inspector Given mysteries, including A Shadowed Livery, A Pretty Folly, and A Patient Man. He also published several community participation guides, until he retired and began writing short stories. One of those stories led to his first novel, A Shadowed Livery. He lives in Shropshire in England.
Where Every Man is a solid mystery and a suspenseful tale of World War II.