Black’s lucid prose is the perfect foil for tangled politics, old hatreds, unsolved crimes, the threat to Irish neutrality, and the possibility of new alliances that seethe underneath ... This elegant novel will satisfy all readers who appreciate a good story, well told.
... subtle if occasionally slow-moving ... Among the book’s many satisfying elements is the portrayal of the prejudice that Strafford and Nashe face in their careers, with Strafford being 'the only Protestant at detective level' and an outlier among his countrymen, and Nashe dealing with male colleagues who don’t want 'bloody women' among their ranks ... memorably shows the many forms that hatred can take.
The Secret Guests is not so much a thriller as what Graham Greene called 'an entertainment,' and the tone is very reminiscent of the Greene of England Made Me or Our Man in Havana. Although the tone is light, the novel is a mordant observation of the palimpsest of arrogance and resentment that is the legacy of Britain’s dealings with its neighbor, one that’s still being played out today as Brexit threatens to destabilize both Ireland’s economy and the island’s fragile peace. As for the princesses, they are written with a republican zest, made all the keener by the knowledge that royalty, for all its anachronistic irrelevance, sells.