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Fires of London (The Francis Bacon Mysteries Book 1) Kindle Edition
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Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
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.
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.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I didn't finish it. Its all about war and promiscuous homosexuality, neither of which are among my interests. I read the previous book because it was set in Tangiers.Published 14 months ago by Kindle Customer
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 morePublished 19 months ago by Thomas Craig Bryars
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 morePublished 21 months ago by Hasemeister
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 morePublished on November 2, 2013 by Patti
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 morePublished on November 11, 2012 by druidgirl
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 morePublished on September 26, 2012 by Unabridged Chick
Exceptionally well written, FIRES OF LONDON vividly depicts Francis Bacon's underground life and forming artistic images during the London Blitz. Read morePublished on September 24, 2012 by Bill Baker
A gem of a book that delightfully rides the genre lines between historical fiction, psychological thriller, and good old-fashioned pulp mystery. Read morePublished on September 23, 2012 by SVV
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