My choice is The Cambridge Theorem by Tony Cape. This is a first novel by an author who produced four mysteries between 1989 and 1996. This book is a combination of police procedural and spy fiction. Right up my alley. I read the book in January of this year, before I started this blog.
The description on the book cover sums it up well:
"When Simon Bowles commits suicide, no one is surprised. A graduate student at Cambridge University, Bowles had a long history of depression. But as Detective Sergeant Derek Smailes soon discovers, he also had an extraordinary knack for solving historical mysteries. His most recent project: Uncovering the identity of the fabled “fifth man” in the notorious Cambridge spy-ring of the 1930s. Could Bowles possibly have solved that mystery? And could his solution—his “theorem”—have brought about his death?"
The title of the book refers to the student's extracurricular activities: using mathematical logic to solve problems. In this case both the possible existence of a fifth Cambridge spy and the solution to the Kennedy assassination. The plot centers on the investigation into a possible conspiracy to cover up a murder, and whether this relates Simon Bowles' investigation into the Cambridge spies or not.
I enjoy spy fiction for the stories of corruption and betrayals. Police procedurals are a favorite sub-genre for me. With elements of both, this book kept me entertained for all of its 430 pages. However, it was the development of the main character, Derek, and his backstory, that pushed up another level for me. The exploration of why he is a policeman and his complex relationship with his father and how this drives his actions was well done.
The book is set in the early 1980's, and was published in 1989. The copy I have was published by Felony & Mayhem and I discovered it at a wonderful independent bookstore that has an extensive mystery collection. There are three more books by Tony Cape (per Fantastic Fiction) and as far as I can tell, they all are continuations of the Derek Smailes series. The second and third are available at a reasonable price (used, online), but finding the fourth one is more difficult. I would like to know more about the author, Tony Cape, but was unsuccessful in my research.
More information related to the book:
Online article about the Cambridge spies at BBC News
At Felony & Mayhem
A review by B. Morrison