Firing Line (The Blitz Detective) Kindle Edition
"Bones Don't Lie" by Melinda Leigh
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In the midst of yet another air raid on London in 1940, a light is seen in a window. They need to tell the householder to turn it off or shut their blackout curtains. No one answers the door. A fireman breaks in and he and the air raid warden with him discover a body of a young woman.
Detective Inspector John Jago and Detective Constable Peter Cradock are called to the scene. It looks like she was strangled with a nylon stocking. At this juncture in time, they are only available in the US. In the woman’s purse, they find an identity card in the name of Joan Lewis. They also find a sailor’s cap under the bed.
The autopsy shows that the woman was indeed strangled with the stocking. DI Jago mentions to the pathologist Dr. Anderson that the killing reminds him of the Soho Strangler. He killed four women in 1935 to 1937 and was never caught. Then, Dr. Anderson agrees. The last thing that Dr. Anderson tells Jago and Cradock is that the woman was about twelve weeks pregnant.
They go to the address on the identity card, for it is not the one at which she was found, and meet Joan’s mother-in-law. She thought very little of Joan. There they learn that Joan was married and that her husband has been missing in Germany or France for six months. They meet her sister, who also works at the cinema where Joan worked. She identified the body for the mother-in-law refused to do it. While at the cinema, the manager told them that their safe was broken into. The thief or thieves took the whole weekend’s receipts.
They discovered a friend of Joan’s. When they go to talk to her, she gives them a suitcase that Joan has asked her to keep for her. Inside is some kind of green costume.
When they show it to the mother-in-law she claims it belongs to her. But she won’t say any more about it. They visit the sister-in-law who doesn’t know about the suitcase, but tells them of a sailor who was in the pub selling stockings. On their way to track him down, they stop at the cinema to question the man on duty the night they were robbed. DC Cradock has a theory.
They re-visit their witnesses; the people who knew Joan or were related to her in some way. Slowly, they begin to get a better picture of Joan and what was going on in her life. They discard the idea of the Soho Strangler.
Along the way to solving the murder, Jago and Cradock solve the robbery at the theater. The clue to solving it comes from an unexpected source. The father of the baby is an oh, oh moment. Solving Joan’s murder was a little more tricky. It was a rather surprising outcome.
This is a very well written and plotted novel. It takes the reader through a thorough police investigation, without all the bells and whistles that we have today. They only have their eyesight, intuition and finger prints to go on. So it’s necessary to question the witnesses very carefully. The tension in this story begins immediately and continues as the reader follows the painstaking police search for answers. I’ve read all of Mr. Hollow’s books, and I really like them. I like the back-and-forth between Jago and Cradock. Mr. Hollow has a talent for dialogue. Cradock is getting better at ferreting out sensible questions of his own. I am looking forward to reading the next Jago and Cradock novel in this series.
I want to thank NetGalley and Lion Hudson Ltd/Lion Fiction for forwarding to me a copy of this great book to read and enjoy.
The London Blitz may be the background for this story but the murder mystery could have been staged anywhere and could have taken place in recent years. In this 4th installment Detective Inspector John Jago and Detective Constable Peter Cradock are called to the scene where a young woman was murdered, strangled with a nylon stocking and near her they found a sailor’s cap.
I love how the author drips slowly clues to Jago in his investigation to keep the tension going and our interest at its peak. The plot is very well written to takes us through the investigation without any fluffs, it is simple and to the point. Questioning witnesses is the key to a thorough investigation and the story does not shy away from doing a lot of it. A good murder case has its moment of emotional strain evidently we see how Jago and Cradock face those moments while searching for answers. Why stay with only one case, on a second front and during the painstaking search the inspectors stumble into a robbery at the theater that need also their full attention. What excels in this mystery is the interrelation between the two protagonists, how they communicate and complete each other. Mr. Hollow knows how important good dialogue is. We are well served with a good dose of excellent exchanges.
To sum up:
“Firing Line” is a well-plotted storyline with excellent narration and dialogue played out by two wonderful protagonists and great secondary characters….what’s not to love. I am looking forward to book #5.
I received this ARC from Lion Hudson LTD via NetGalleys
However, it's the story within the story that takes precedence in this, the fourth book in the series. The mystery almost fades in the background as the author opens up Detective Jago's personality and future plans as he expresses more and more about what Dorothy, the American journalist who has become part of his life, means to him. These thoughts and ideas, outlined in fine prose, make Jago even more engaging of a character. I just don't want to see his changing perceptions get the best of him. That would muddle up my appreciation of future stories.
Thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for a copy ahead of publication, in exchange for an objective review.