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Fires of London (The Francis Bacon Mysteries Book 1) [Kindle Edition]

Janice Law
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)

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Book Description

A killer takes refuge in the blacked-out streets of wartime London, upending the world of one of Britain’s greatest painters in this chilling and captivating reimagining of the life of Francis Bacon

Francis Bacon walks the streets of World War II London, employed as a warden for the ARP to keep watch for activities that might tip off the Axis powers. Before the war, Bacon had travelled to Berlin and Paris picking up snatches of culture from a succession of middle-aged men charmed by his young face. Known for his flamboyant personal life and expensive taste, Bacon has returned home to live with his former nanny—who’s also his biggest collector—in a cramped bohemian apartment.
 
But one night, death intrudes on his after-hours paradise. When a young man is found dead in the park, his head smashed in, Bacon and the rest of London’s demimonde realize that they have much more to fear than the faraway scream of war.


Editorial Reviews

Review

“Law does a bangup job of recreating London during the Blitz and portraying real-life artist Francis Bacon as an unlikely sleuth.” —Publishers Weekly

Book Description

Janice Law’s latest novel is a fictional account of the infamous British painter Francis Bacon. Set in the war darkened streets of London in the 1940s, this historical novel successfully combines the moodiness of Victorian-era detective stories with a unique and compelling story.

Product Details

  • File Size: 890 KB
  • Print Length: 186 pages
  • Publisher: MysteriousPress.com/Open Road (September 4, 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B008Q5CLJE
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #436,552 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good things come in small packages September 4, 2012
Format:Paperback
Francis Bacon (the 20th century artist, not the 17th century philosopher) is a surprising choice for a mystery protagonist. He was booted out of his home by his domineering father for being flamboyantly effeminate, and lived on his wits, mostly in London, seeking out wealthy older men to keep him. More often, he lived with his old nanny, Jessie Lightfoot, who had always been more of a mother to him. But don't be fooled by the seeming domesticity of a grown man living with his old nan. She didn't put any sort of a crimp in his style. She even vetted his lovers.

Janice Law sets Fires of London in 1940, shortly after the wartime blackout made nighttime London a place of misty, impenetrable blackness. She has Bacon acting as an ARP (air raid precautions) warden, walking a beat at night. One night, he learns that one of his acquaintances in London's gay demimonde has been brutally murdered in a nearby park. Not long afterward, Bacon literally stumbles on another victim. Feeling under threat himself, Bacon uses his patrols and contacts to try to find the murderer.

Law skillfully mixes wry humor with heart-thumping suspense. Bacon's scenes with his nan are a little like a comedy double act; full of charm and chuckles. The mood changes completely when Bacon stumbles through nighttime streets and alleys with only falling bombs and incendiaries as illumination to help him avoid threats from a host of attackers. I've read a lot of World War II-era mysteries, and several novels that take place during the London Blitz. I don't remember another that did such a good job at conveying the chaos, fear and exhilaration of being on the streets during a raid.

During the Golden Age of mystery, a typical novel would clock in right around 200 pages.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Fires of London August 1, 2013
Format:Paperback
I think I might have liked Janice Law's Fires of London more if I had any sort of appreciation for Francis Bacon... that's Francis Bacon the artist, not the philosopher, who is a different person entirely, but that's beside the point. My sincere apologies for rambling friends, time to redirect back to my review.

Not knowing much about the man, I spent a lot of time looking up information on Bacon and his work while reading Law's fiction and in so doing learned two very valuable bits of information. First, while background reading will give you a better understanding of the spirit in which this story is written, it is an entirely unnecessary exercise. And second, I'm an uncultured heathen and have absolutely no business reflecting the merits of figurative art be it visual or literary.

I know you're asking what the hell I am getting at, but I promise I have a point. I find most of Bacon's work odd and the rest of it downright creepy. The emotionally raw surrealist imagery doesn't work for me on the canvas so it should come as no surprise that I find it difficult to rouse much enthusiasm when I see it so perfectly recreated under Law's pen. It reads like one, but that isn't an insult. There is literary genius on every page of this period mystery, clearly evident in Law's ability to channel the same disturbing sensations that characterize Bacon's art through her manipulation of language and prose and even I, heathen that I am, can appreciate that.

I tip my hat to Law's creativity and artistry - conceptually Fires of London is a remarkable read. I only wish I were able to savor its entertainment value in the same capacity, but try as I might I couldn't get into this one. I say again, the fault here is entirely my own so please, take my comments with a healthy degree of salt. Much to my dismay I was simply the wrong reader for this one.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Short But Satisfying October 17, 2012
Format:Kindle Edition
Set in London in 1939 just before the Blitz, artist Frances Bacon spends his nights as an air raid precaution (ARP) warden. It is his task to patrol a section of the city to ensure that all windows are blacked out so that no light shows and all street lamps are extinguished. On quiet nights, however, he is not averse to a little 'rough trade' in the park with willing older gents.

But someone is taking advantage of the blackout to kill young gay men and Bacon has the misfortune to stumble (in one case, literally) over the bodies. Soon, he is the major... scratch that, the only suspect since the inspector in charge of the case may have reasons of his own not to investigate any further. In desperation to clear his name, Bacon goes on the run determined to solve the crimes himself.

I have to admit that I knew very little about the real Bacon outside of having seen a couple of his paintings which I found more than a little macabre. I have no idea how true to life the Frances Bacon of the story is but he makes an extremely likable protagonist with a wry sense of humour and just a touch of mischief about him. He lives with his old, blind, but always sharp, nanny while running an illegal roulette wheel with his married lover.

However, the real star of the book has to be the Blitz. Author Janice law does a marvelous job of describing the first bombings of London: the complete impenetrable dark of the blackout so intense you couldn't see your hand in front of your face, the chaos, the noise of the planes, the explosions, the thunder of falling buildings and the screams of those who weren't able to make it to the shelters, and, of course, the all-consuming fear.

Fires of London is relatively short but packs quite a wallop in its less than 200 pages.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars A skillful reimagining of Francis Bacon in WWII London
Francis Bacon re-imagined as a reluctant detective forced into service by a dubious inspector. The fleshy under belly of London and the insanity of the Blitz are vividly evoked... Read more
Published 4 months ago by Thomas Craig Bryars
5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely delightful book
I was a little hesitant to pick up this book as the reviews seemed rather lukewarm. However, I was very pleasantly surprised and delighted when I read the book. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Hasemeister
3.0 out of 5 stars First in the series
You meet Francis Bacon during the London Blitz. He's an artist who hangs out with the eclectic type of people who try to make a living under very unusual times. Read more
Published 11 months ago by Patti Wilson
4.0 out of 5 stars London blitz
This storyline is set in 1939 during The Blitz, as an ARP warden Francis Bacon is an artist during the day and patrols the streets at night when all the air raid and bombings take... Read more
Published 23 months ago by druidgirl
5.0 out of 5 stars wry and self-deprecating, quick and clever and kind of sketchy, bold...
Thankfully, I don't mind when historical figures are wrangled into improbable fictions, and in this case, I loved watching Francis Bacon slum it and fight crime in World War II... Read more
Published on September 26, 2012 by Unabridged Chick
5.0 out of 5 stars A fine mystery
Exceptionally well written, FIRES OF LONDON vividly depicts Francis Bacon's underground life and forming artistic images during the London Blitz. Read more
Published on September 24, 2012 by Bill Baker
5.0 out of 5 stars Brings Home the Bacon
A gem of a book that delightfully rides the genre lines between historical fiction, psychological thriller, and good old-fashioned pulp mystery. Read more
Published on September 23, 2012 by SVV
4.0 out of 5 stars An artist living on the edge
Fires of London follows a classic thriller formula: a falsely accused man must avoid the police long enough to prove his own innocence. Read more
Published on September 4, 2012 by TChris
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