Detective Chief Inspector Michael Lambert has left the Thames Valley Police Authority and is now working for Europol as a front-line Europol Liaison Officer at The Hague.
Abduction: An Angel over Rimini, involves the kidnapping of a little English girl from a campsite in Riccione in Italy. It is a cold case, which has been reopened due to public pressure, the intervention of the British government, and publicity from leading English newspapers.
The story of abduction by Patrick Brigham has two layers, because, during his stay in Italy DCI Lambert finds time to unearth his father’s mysterious past. During his wartime service in Bari, as an RAF officer in a wartime Pathfinder Squadron, it also reveals the truth about his father’s secret wartime exploits, and his romantic peccadillos too!
It is also a new awakening for Michael Lambert, and romance – in the shape of Countess Beatrix d’Aragona – finally brings the Europol detective emotionally back to life, blotting out the past, and the sterile marriage to his pretentious ex wife, Arabella Lambert.
In his travels he comes across corrupt lawyers and dodgy orphanages in Bulgaria, although in so doing, he also manages to pinpoint a distinct child trafficking trail. This ultimately leads him back to Central Europe, the discovery of an illegal child adoption agency in Hanover, and the criminals who operate it. Finally, the information gleaned during his trip through Bulgaria helps DCI Lambert to learn if little Penny Scratchford is alive or dead, but then you will have to read the book to find out!
Child abduction is one of the cruelest criminal acts, parents never knowing if their loved ones are alive or dead. It is a torture which never goes away, a feeling of emptiness and loss which grinds away each day, destroying parents emoticons, and very often their relationships too.
I wrote Abduction: An Angel over Rimini, shortly after the abduction of Madeleine McCann, which is a crime I have studied very carefully. However, I set my story in Italy – not wishing to add to the distress of the McCann family in Portugal – and created a new scenario altogether. But this is where I might have fooled the unwary reader , because I enlisted my entire Italian cast, from John Webster’s 17th Century play, The Duchess of Malfi.
In fact the story is virtually the same, when it comes to the burgeoning story of Lambert’s father Billy, his romantic liaison during wartime RAF service in Bari and Acona – often described as The Dirty War. This was where my father served, during WWII, later moving on to Palestine at the end of hostilities. My father was in his early 40s then, and too old to fly, he had somehow wangled a commission in the RAF, and was Squadron Adjutant to 35 Squadron, a Pathfinder squadron.
As a little boy I often overheard relatives remark how much my father had enjoyed the war, although this is hard to believe in retrospect, but it set my mind spinning at the thought that I might have an Italian brother or sister, living somewhere from the past. I never really knew my father, he died when I was nine years old, but there he is in the fictional guise of Billy Lambert, wrapped up in his wartime secrets, and revealing his hidden truths.