"That's them," Thorn said. "I'm sure of it. But ..."
I have never been able to resist the word "but." It's the ragged edge of the photograph, the texture of a provenance disturbing the flat perfection of a book. [loc. 275]
Ian McDonald's novella encompasses the Shingle Street mystery (rumours of a failed German invasion in 1940, and burned bodies washing up on the beach of this small Suffolk village) with the Rendlesham incident (UFO sightings in a Suffolk forest in the winter of 1980). It's a love story -- actually, it's two love stories, though Emmett's affair with the redoubtable Thorn is somewhat derailed by his growing obsession -- and a story about identity. (I did wonder why Emmett didn't make an obvious connection.)
Beautifully written with a cracking sense of place -- whether Shingle Street, Spitalfields or Rome -- and a real poignancy. This could have been fleshed out to novel-length (perhaps with more from Tom, and especially from Ben), but it says all that needs saying in novella form.