Set in Britain during the early years of the Second World War, Madalyn Morgan’s, “The 9.45 to Bletchley” is an interesting book which has elements of suspense and leads to a fitting climax. Ena Dudley is a young woman who works in the engineering firm called Silcott’s. She is engaged in top-secret work and knows that the products manufactured by their firm are contributing to the war effort, though she doesn’t quite know how all the pieces fit in. Much of what they do is governed by the war-time Official Secrets Act. Her boss entrusts her to transport her output, which he usually used to carry himself, to the secret defence establishment at Bletchley.Accompanying her on this her first trip to Bletchley is Freda, her colleague at work. She is actually the secretary to Mr Silcott and is totally trusted by him. She seems to have a familiarity with Mr Silcott which goes beyond her secretarial duties. Then begins a series of adventures which shake Ena’s self-confidence. She suspects that some enemies of Britain are spying on her and attempting to sabotage her work, or worse. She can’t confide in Mr Silcott and is troubled by her doubts whether at all he knows what is going on in his own firm. Freda though charming and friendly towards Ena reveals very little about herself. She, unlike the other girls in the office, speaks little about her family and her life before Silcott’s.
As time goes by, Mr Silcott entrusts the work of carrying the secret boards made in his factory to Bletchley to Ena who dutifully takes the 9.45 train. Here she comes across all types of people and is carried away thinking any one of them could be a spy. In the course of these train trips she finds herself falling in love with Henry Green who works in Bletchley. He had at one time known her elder sister but they had moved apart some years ago. She cannot even trust Henry and is at her wit’s end. Ena is relieved when the officer responsible for counter intelligence Commander Dalton, whom she initially believed suspected her of being a spy, comes to her aid. He guides her on how to negotiate the difficult and risky path ahead. Henry Green could be part of the spy gang, he said. They had to find out who and how many were in this ring of spies and saboteurs, and stop this gang from passing on their secrets to the Germans.
Apart from a good plot and well-developed characters the book generally moves at a good pace. At times, the descriptions are perhaps more detailed than strictly required but overall they capture well the environment then prevailing in England and the emotions experienced by Ena in this war-time romance.
I learnt that Madalyn Morgan has written four books with featuring the Dudley sisters, all set in Britain, during the Second World War. It may be worth reading the other three after having read this one.