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

3.8 out of 5 stars 12 customer reviews

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Length: 186 pages Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled

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Editorial Reviews


“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: 1062 KB
  • Print Length: 186 pages
  • Publisher: Road (September 4, 2012)
  • Publication Date: September 4, 2012
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B008Q5CLJE
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #782,756 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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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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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