The story ends with Lushington returning home through the choppy waters and cold winds of the Baltic seas leaving behind him tragedy.
Not only does his friend the Russian count die but the constant threats to assassinate the police chief result in a gun battle in the streets after the most important social event of the calendar. Lushington had argued with his possessive mistress Frau Marvin and left her to be taken home by Da Costa.
Ironically Mr Marvin believes that Da Costa is having an affair with his wife and in an odd twist on the love triangle with Lucy in England the one who doesn’t love is fingered as the lover.
In the end the fate of Da Costa and Frau Marvin are sealed by the misaimed assassins bullets meant for the police chief. Lushington misses the story and heads home to pick up in the literary section of the newspaper.
He meets Lucy who in a half-hearted way offers herself to him. But this is a man who has seen himself reflected in another and seen the costs that can result and is now not in such a rush to return to his old self or return so easily to a one-way relationship with Lucy.
This book plods to its conclusion and if the main point of the story is about the twists and turns of love then it seems ironical that it ends with things just slowly going out of focus in a Thames-side pub in the dark and cold.
Interesting to see how Powell developed from this to the Dance series. What is evident on almost every page of his other work and is lacking here is some sense of rhythm.
A review will follow shortly…