When I began writing there was a phrase that used to make me and stop and ponder about the process of producing mystery stories - introduce a twist! I know what was intended by the advice and I have used it in some measure in all of my books. Grace and Favour was an example of more than one such 'twist' and worked quite well. It worked on two levels, from the point of view of the stand alone novel and in the context of the Steele series.
As an exercise the novel allowed me to refresh relationships and re-establish connections but it also allowed me to have a dig at the establishment. Political commentary is a duty of all writers.
Steele has accepted that life has changed markedly and yet he is required once again to tackle a situation of injustice, But has concerns that he is being commissioned to act by the authorities.
Patrick is working alone trying to recover a youngster kidnapped from parents with a high profile role in the UK establishment. He is without the support of former allies, the Gurentai, and yet feels that the police and National Crime Agency, who have requested his involvement, have another agenda that is not necessarily in the interests of Steele.
The action is shared mostly between the UK and Canada. In the early stages of the case Patrick is chasing kidnappers across the continent of North America when disaster occurs and he is forced to return to the UK. While in Canmore, Alberta, Steele seeks solace from the apparent loss of his long-time partner and fiance Naomi Kobayashi, in the arms of a local girl.
Has Steele bitten off more than he can chew?
Where is his love life going?
Are former allies, the Gurentai, targeting Steele?
Will he recover the kidnapped child or will he fail and become the target for retribution by the authorities?
The romantic aspect of Steele's life is about him as a human being responding to his personal history. All relationships have sticky periods and within Grace and Favour is one such example. I could have posed questions about him getting back on track or perhaps even being the slave of two masters but you will have to read the book to appreciate what really happens to the man.
Twist or stick?