Since Mr. Archer has a penchant for high drama and cliffhangers, the first book in the Clifton Chronicles ended with Harry assuming the identity of a dead American and landing in New York City only to be charged with murder. Back home, everyone thinks he is dead, having been killed when the ship he had signed on to was sunk by a German U-Boat. His mother Maisie and paramour Emma grieve in their own way, with Emma finally taking matters into her own hands. After uncovering the slimmest of indications that he may still be alive, she sails to New York and enlists the help of her feisty old great aunt and cousin to track him down and get him freed. Unbeknownst to them, however, Harry has been given a chance to serve in the US Army in an old fashioned black ops kind of thing. He and his former prison cellmate go on to serve with distinction. Back in England, Maisie is picking up the pieces of her life. Giles goes on to enlist and ends up serving in North Africa under his old nemesis from St. Bede’s and is eventually sent to a POW camp, from which he makes a daring escape.
After the war, determining who the rightful heir to the title Lord Barrington is takes center stage. While Harry asserts that he has no interest in taking the title from his boyhood friend Giles, that’s just not the way things work. And, hey, it’s 1945 so there’s no DNA testing that would end all this trial and turmoil in a thrice (relatively speaking). He just wants to be rid of the spectre that he could be the illegitimate son of Sir Hugo Barrington so that he can marry Emma. Oh and did I mention they had a son, Sebastian, that he didn’t know about before he left England? And that Sir Hugo was killed in a murder-suicide leaving another potential Barrington Halfling out there? Oh yeah, it’s all there, everyone on tenterhooks until the Lord Chancellor makes his decree.