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

Janice Law
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 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


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

About the Author

Janice Law (b. 1941) is an acclaimed author of mystery fiction. The Watergate scandal inspired her to write her first novel, The Big Payoff (1977), which introduced Anna Peters, a street-smart young woman who blackmails her boss, a corrupt oil executive. The novel was a success, winning an Edgar nomination, and Law went on to write eight more in the series, including Death Under Par (1980) and Cross-Check (1997).
After Death Under Par, Law set aside the character for several years to write historical mysteries The Countess (1989) and All the King’s Ladies (1986). After concluding the Peters series, she wrote three stand-alone suspense novels: The Night Bus (2000), The Lost Diaries of Iris Weed (2002), and Voices (2003). Since then, Law has focused on writing short stories, many of which appear in Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine. Prisoner of the Riviera (2013) is her most recent novel. She lives and writes in Connecticut.  

Product Details

  • File Size: 936 KB
  • Print Length: 186 pages
  • Publisher: 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: #388,908 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Fires of London August 1, 2013
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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A fine mystery September 24, 2012
Exceptionally well written, FIRES OF LONDON vividly depicts Francis Bacon's underground life and forming artistic images during the London Blitz. A fine mystery, so visual it creates its own shooting script, this has all the potential of a best seller and a haunting film.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An artist living on the edge September 4, 2012
Fires of London follows a classic thriller formula: a falsely accused man must avoid the police long enough to prove his own innocence. In addition to its plot, Fires of London shares other attributes of memorable thrillers: strong writing, solid characters, and a swift pace. Yet in its protagonist and milieu, Fires of London departs from the classic formula to achieve a result that is fresh and fascinating.

To support his painting and gambling, Francis Bacon works as a "gentleman's companion." His preference, however, is for "rough trade" -- clandestine meetings with strangers under circumstances that carry a hint of danger. One of the men he meets, a man he believes to be Chief Inspector John Mordren, roughs him up during their encounter in a park. Soon thereafter, a young man Bacon vaguely knows from gay bars is found beaten to death in Hyde Park. Bacon wonders whether Mordren might be responsible. After Bacon stumbles over the dead body of an RAF pilot while making his way down a dark street, Mordren recruits Bacon to assist him in finding the suspected serial killer. Does Mordren really want Bacon's help, or is Mordren setting up Bacon as the fall guy? When Bacon finds a third murder victim after a bombing raid, Mordren has reason to identify Bacon as a suspect in all three murders. Bacon, of course, must search for the killer on his own while he tries to avoid arrest.

Francis Bacon is an unlikely thriller hero. That's consistent with the convention of the "innocent man" formula -- the innocent man is usually an ordinary guy thrust into a sinister world, relying on wits rather than training to solve the mystery -- but Bacon is truly a unique thriller protagonist.
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