- Series: Inspector Troy Series
- Hardcover: 336 pages
- Publisher: Atlantic Monthly Press; First Edition edition (December 12, 2003)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0871139073
- ISBN-13: 978-0871139078
- Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.4 x 1.1 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars See all reviews (98 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #774,878 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Bluffing Mr. Churchill (Inspector Troy Series) Hardcover – December 12, 2003
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From Publishers Weekly
In this stimulating prequel to Lawton's acclaimed Inspector Troy series (Black Out; Old Flames; etc.), London is in the middle of the blitz and 25-year-old Freddie Troy is a Scotland Yard sergeant, chafing at the limits of his post. As the novel begins, he is relegated to the background, the focus instead on a gawky American named Calvin Cormack, who has come to London to help find and debrief Wolfgang Stahl, a top aide to Hitler's SS chief, Heydrich, and a spy for the Americans who has been forced to flee Germany for England to avoid capture, carrying with him plans for the imminent German invasion of Russia. The seriously spooked Stahl disappears into the vast underground system of bombed-out London, accessible only to Walter Stilton, a wonderfully bluff old copper. Calvin (whose father is a U.S. senator working with Charles Lindbergh and the America First group to keep the U.S. out of the war) is quickly absorbed into the large Stilton family, winning the affections of oldest daughter Kitty, also a police officer. Kitty, as it happens, was previously involved with Freddie Troy (and hasn't given him up entirely); Freddie's ties to the family and Calvin become more complicated when tragedy strikes and Freddie is drawn into the search for Stahl. Lawton meshes comedy and suspense with skill and energy, and seamlessly mixes fictional creations with real characters like H.G. Wells, newspaper magnate Lord Beaverbrook, Winston Churchill and distant cousin Robert Churchill (a talented gunsmith who plays a key role here), producing a distinctive, vigorous novel of wartime suspense.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
In the third escapade of aristocrat copper Freddie Troy to reach U.S. shores, it is spring 1941, and while Britain hunkers down under sporadic bombing and the daily privations of war, America and Russia look idly on with ill-fated apathy. High-ranking spy Wolfgang Stahl flees Berlin, and his American contact, Captain Cal Cormack, teams up in a transatlantic odd couple with hardy Chief Inspector Stilton, following the desultory trail of the turncoat Nazi and sundry other German spies and assassins dodging about the ruined hulks and malodorous bomb shelters of London. On the gangly frame of these Buchanesque exploits hang intriguing snippets of history, a bit of social comedy, and a teeming cast of odd birds, such as Winston Churchill's ballistics-whiz brother Bob and randy Kitty, "either naked or getting naked." Troy of the Murder Squad is attacked with a potato peeler whilst playing his rather incidental role. The suspense is fairly slack, and moments of gravity tend to ring hollow amid all the chipper stoicism, but no matter: there's a war on, mate! Or, as Stilton's oft-employed Dickensian tagline puts it, "Wot Larx!" David Wright
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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Top Customer Reviews
'Bluffing Mr. Churchill' (or `Riptide' in Britain) is set in a wartime London. And Frederick Troy is for most of the novel a minor character. (Lawton, it appears enjoys tweaking the 'rules' of series writing: his Troy novels aren't chronological, Troy we're told at one point resembles James Mason [shudder, so not the alpha hero!], sympathetic characters sometimes fall afoul of the villains, and Troy doesn't always make the best decisions.) And here, the majority of the novel is devoted to other characters.
Briefly, 'Bluffing Mr. Churchill' is the story of Captain Cal Cormack, a bespectacled and seemingly ingenious American soldier and his partner, Chief Inspector Stilton, possibly the most delightful copper the reader will ever encounter. The pair is trying to beat Nazi assassins to Wolfgang Stahl, an American-run German agent who is somewhere in London.
Lawton's 1941 London comes alive. The devastation of the air raids, the pervading grief at the loss of life among both civilians and the military, the disruption of the social order and the undermining of the certainty that life as it has been will continue are carefully juggled with the English ability to find honor and courage and humor in the worst of situations. Lawton's novel is in many ways an entertaining social history rendered with sympathy and humor.
Five Stars. The bottom line: `Bluffing Mr. Churchill' is indeed a well written mystery set in World War II London and should have great appeal for those who enjoy period mysteries, but it is so much more. It is also a striking portrait of London and its people.
Since Lawton's novels sometimes have different titles in Britain and the USA, and since they're not written in a strict chronological order, here are two lists that may help; no promises, but I think I got it right.
Chronological Order (based on Troy's life): A Lily of the Field, Second Violin, Riptide (Bluffing Mr. Churchill), Black Out, Old Flames, Blue Rondo (Flesh Wounds), A Little White Death.
Publishing Order: Black Out, Old Flames, A Little White Death, Bluffing Mr. Churchill, Flesh Wounds, Second Violin, A Lilly of the Field.
For the 99 cents I got it on special from, it was worth every penny - I liked it but I didn't love it, and while I don't go paying list price for any further Inspector Troy mysteries I'd probably buy another book in the series if it were on sale.