England, 1930s. Christopher Banks has become the country’s most celebrate detective, his cases the talk of London society. Yet one unsolved crime has always haunted him: the mysterious disappearance of his parents, in Old Shanghai, when he was small boy. Now, as the world lurches towards total war, Banks realizes that the time has come for him to return to the city of his childhood and at last solve the mystery- that only by his doing so will civilization be saved from the approaching catastrophe.
Moving between London and Shanghai of the inter-war years, When We Were Orphans is a story of memory, intrigue and the world surviving deep into adulthood, indelibly shaping and distorting a person’s life.