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Enemy Action (The Blitz Detective) Kindle Edition
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My only caveat is that the book is quite taken up with characters going on about the terrible effects of war and all that that entails. Just know that you will have to wade through what I assume is the author interjecting himself into the story. It does in no way detract from what is an entertaining historical mystery/police procedural.
This is the third book in the Blitz Detective series, but the first novel I've read either in that series or by Mike Hollow. The story takes place in the Essex County Borough of West Ham in 1940. This area of London was bombed so heavily during the Blitz because it was located near the shipyards and the German strategy was to disrupt the building of British ships to make the island even more isolated and incapable of fighting the German warships. In previous novels I've read about this horrible time in British history the people who took shelter from the bombs did so in the tunnels of the London Underground. In this story the people shelter in concrete bunkers constructed above ground, actually in the roadway. The author shows what a nightmare these above ground bunkers must have been with no ventilation systems and nothing to do but sit in the dark on a concrete bench or on newspapers on the floor until the all-clear sirens sounded. It's no wonder so many people made the deadly decision to remain in their homes or to go into their own Anderson shelters in their back garden.
When the all-clear is sounded after a night of heavy bombing the body of a man is found in one of the above ground shelters. Police are called and Detective Inspector John Jago and Detective Constable Peter Craddock follow the clues to discover the identity of the victim and the motive for the killing. Their investigation leads them to the pacifist movement, the state of the education system for the children remaining in the city and the temptations for corruption in the local governing body.
I learned many new facts concerning this point in the history of World War II and for that I thank the author. I could not seem to become completely engaged with the main characters, but I might be willing to read another book in this series in the future.
So it is that on a Sunday morning, his only day off, Detective Inspector John Jago is called in to investigate a suspicious death in an air-raid shelter. A man has been murdered. He is quickly identified as a local teacher who was an avowed pacifist and conscientious objector. Is that why he was murdered? And why-on-earth would a pacifist have a gun in his pocket?
The resulting murder investigation reveals that no one really seemed to know the murder victim very well at all and many of the suspects have undisclosed connections to one another. Add to that whispers of a possible pay-off scam involving sub-standard air-raid shelters, crooked politicians, a possible budding romance for the Detective Inspector, and, of course, the war... you've got a pretty decent English mystery.
This is the third book in the Blitz Detective series, the first one I've read. It works well as a stand alone but there are many references to things that have happened before that lets you know you probably should've started with book one (as with most series I suppose). The author does a great job of setting the tone of war time England. I thought it got a little sidetracked with the personal demons of several of those who had survived extreme violence and death in the previous war (WWI) just because, in my opinion, it detracted from the ongoing storyline rather than adding an extra layer to it (which I believe is what the author intended). Still, it's a pretty good book that kept my attention throughout.
Enemy Action is smart and well written. While I can't think of any similar books offhand it reminded me of the British TV show "Foyle's War". I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys English mystery with a slight edge to it or historical mysteries.
***Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for allowing me the opportunity to read and review this book.
Most recent customer reviews
This is a very well written book. It flows beautifully. Mr. Hollow is a fine writer.Read more
This is a series that is right up my alley! It is British, historical (WWII era) and police procedural.Read more