A Who Dunnit in Wartime London


A man is killed out while fishing outside of Lewes.

Then in Aberdeen, a strikingly similar murder. 

John Madden is a former detective who is still highly regarded by his former colleagues in Scotland Yard. So when they ask for his help, particularly as the victim, Gibson had written to Madden asking to speak to him before he died.

Madden doesn’t know why this letter should be addressed to him  or what it could mean and so it starts off a chain of thought….

Madden links these and possibly other murders to the First World war since the victims were all veterans of the war many years previously. The war of course is a sensitive area to investigate and many issues are still buried and secrets there do not want to be disturbed. Secrets and issues that also have their links to the second world war.

In such a tangled web of deceit and foggy memories, Madden has little time to find and protect the next victim. For they know that there will be one.

The setting

(c)the booktrail
war time London (c)the booktrail

This is the fourth in a series which is being released with new jackets to appeal to new readers. And this is a good start as the jackets are as atmospheric as the foggy and desolate london streets. 

Madden left the Yard in a taxi that too him north through drab streets where the buildings, unpainted for many years, rubbed shoulders with bomb sites, crates that had once been home to cellar or basements, but were now empty pits.

In fact the fog seems to be a character of its own as it evokes the misery and loneliness of the countryside too, of other places – 

The early morning mist had lifted for a while during the day but now it was back, lapping at the balustrade and blanketing the garden below. 

The war is evoked on every page and its the little detail such as the contrast between town and country that really illustrates how the war affected everyone – 

The station clock at Waterloo was showing ten minutes past five when Billy got back to London.

The optimism felt in the country at large when the  war had ended two years earlier had all but evaporated;the expectation that life would soon be back to normal now seemed a distant dream. Food was still rationed, clothing hard to come by, housing in short supply and petrol all but unobtainable.

The prose Airth uses is deeply evocative as is the imagery used to evoke  the atmospheric bleakness of post war London. 

A real who-dunnit set against a unique backdrop . Such a booktrail through mainly war time London via two world wars and the 1950s –  this is quite a journey.

This is a novel of extremely stylish and evocative prose of wartime London although I would recommend you read the first three to fully appreciate this one. Having said that, it has made me want to seek them out and then reread this one. Another evocative trip to wartime London awaits…

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