The Key to Deceit by Edgar-nominated author Ashley Weaver (A Peculiar Combination; A Deception at Thornecrest) is the excellent second installment in the Electra McDonnell series. When intelligence agent Major Ramsey contacts gifted locksmith Ellie McDonnell with a request that she unlock a mysterious bracelet, Ellie's curiosity is piqued. The circumstances surrounding a dead woman, her odd bracelet and a cache of loose gemstones clearly indicate a larger, more nefarious plot.
Ellie and the Major join forces to unravel a tangled skein of clues and find themselves caught up in a volatile mix of her quirky criminal associates and a group of dangerous Nazi agents. The straitlaced Major Ramsey's approach is at odds with Ellie's whip-smart, seemingly reckless methods of solving the puzzle. Joined by Felix, a longtime friend of Ellie's--who would like to be her sole romantic focus--the three track killers down foggy London streets. Failure to stop the enemy is not an option: the lives of all London citizens rest on their investigation. Everyone involved knows the danger, and all are willing to risk their lives to end the threat.
The setting of London during World War II comes to life in this absorbing plot with its fresh take on spying, murder and war on the home front. Each of the characters is well-developed and endearing, and Ellie's sharp wit and criminal expertise play brilliantly against the by-the-book persona of Major Ramsey and the suave, slightly felonious leanings of Felix. The novel can easily be read as a stand-alone story, although readers will surely wish to enjoy the first installment as well. --Lois Dyer, writer and reviewer