Shortlisted for the 2023 Howard Engel Award for Best Crime Novel Set in Canada
November’s rain in Toronto 1936 has turned into December’s cold snap. Charlotte Frayne escapes being hit by a mud-splattered car racing round the corner at Queen and Spadina. The stranger who saves her turns out to be the man her boss, Mr. Gilmore, has helped to escape Germany and is now a refugee in need of shelter.
In a world still recovering from the War to End All Wars and the Spanish Influenza pandemic that killed fifty million people worldwide, and still in the throes of the Great Depression, Stephen Lucas is not just any refugee from the Nazi regime; he is in possession of information that could alter the course of history — but only if seen by persons in power and if acted upon. In a surprising twist of fate, Charlotte’s estranged mother reappears, wanting assistance in locating the son she gave up at birth twenty years before. Despite her turbulent feelings about her mother, Charlotte agrees to investigate, having no idea that the two cases will connect in surprising ways.
Back at the Paradise Café, Christmas draws near and Charlotte’s beau, Hilliard Taylor, and his partners are in disagreement about the holiday concert. With her beloved grandfather in the mix, there’s no telling whether the show will end in good tidings or anarchy.