I know, I should be reading A Lily of the Field instead of the 12-year-old A Little White Death. Well, I only discovered the 'Inspector Troy' series last year; I'm still trying to catch up. Also, it was available at the library.
I won't do synopsis here; I did a one-paragraph summary on Lawton's Wikipedia page. What interested me about this novel was the approach to historical characters. In the closing Historical Note, Lawton explains his historical inspirations and cautions that "This is not a roman à clef." Although many of the fictional characters unique to this novel are based on historical characters, they are not intended to be seen literally as those characters. Lawton wanted to recreate the historical situation, but play "what if?" with the story.
It's fun to compare this character treatment with other possible approaches; follow-up posts will explore as many as I can think of.