JB Priestley in a wonderful book called Delight said that “there are times when we do not want anybody’s social criticism or deep psycho-logical insight or prose poetry or vision of the world: we want a narrative, an artfully contrived tale.” And such narratives he believed were only available in a good detective story! I have never heard of a better description of this genre and my recent read, The Blitz Detective, checked all the boxes to be considered a a good detective story by the maestro himself!

The Blitz Detective by Mike Hollow was first published in 2015 and is the first in the series of 3 books. The novel is set in 1940’s England, West Ham to be exact, just as Germany starts its Blitz, the bombing of London and her suburbs, every night. Detective Inspector John Jago, a veteran of the First War and a tenured detective, who has worked his way from a beat cop, is summoned along with the newly inducted Constable Cradock to investigate a body found lying one of the streets. Though there is no identification on the body, the Detective Inspector recognizes the man, as the local Justice of Peace, Charles Villers and what befuddles the policemen is the fact that it looks like a murder and suicide at the same time. As Jago and Cradock start to dig through the matters, stories emerge and suddenly, it seemed that there was more that met the eye in the case of this particular JP.

This book is published in 2015 but no one, can fault with the atmosphere, the language and the everyday scenes of a nation and her people at war. London in 1940s came alive through the pages, with her bombed out buildings, rationing and politics of rich and poor. Mr. Hollow does a brilliant job of resurrecting the past with in-depth research and small subtleties that makes the novel feel grounded and real. In the creation of character of John Jago, he follows the same grounded approach and tries to create an every man hero. Jago is irritable and is traumatized by the bombs, living through the nightmare of the past, where he survived and many did not. At the same time he is considerate and patient with Cradock, understanding of the follies of people stuck between devil and the deep blue sea and honest enough to apologies for his mistakes. He does not have flash dash style or astounding intelligence, what he is a plodder, who keeps at it until he finds the truth. Craddock is a perfect foil to the senior Jago, looking up to his superior, enthusiastic, and smart enough to not lose temper, when people try to bring him down. The other characters are also deeply etched out and stand on their own merit; my favorites were Charles Viller’s brother and Son. The murder mystery is linear but not boring, there are very few complexities and by the middle, you clearly know that of the few, one should be the murderer so, you are not completely surprised. However the plot is well arched to pull it off and you keep turning the pages; and if the culprit does not take you by surprise, the motives and the fall out does. The only flaw that I found in the book was the introduction of American journalist and I found that angle unnecessary and distracting from the main plot of the book; though it did provide an interesting back story to Jago’s war. However, this is just one strand in this extremely rich attempt to provide a good yarn while being historically accurate, and this success of this remarkable feet makes this book a must read, for those times when you want an artfully contrived tale!

Many Thanks to NetGalley and  Allison & Busby Publishers for providing me a copy of this book!

8 thoughts on “The Murder during the Blitz

  1. JB was spot on and this sounds like a wonderfully distracting read! 😀

    1. cirtnecce says:

      He was and it was 🙂

  2. Mudpuddle says:

    altho this was published recently it sounds like a direct excavation from my favorite mystery locale, the first half of the 20th century… there are many good writers from that era who are unknown today and worth attention, imo anyway… tx for a great review: it conveyed the flavor and taste of the book deliciously… (haha)

    1. cirtnecce says:

      Lol! Yes it was just that; I was really impressed with how the author was able to capture the era so very authentically!

  3. Mudpuddle says:

    i forgot to mention, i read a book of more than 400 pages for your challenge: see my post @ mudpuddlesoup2.blogspot.com tx, C!

    1. cirtnecce says:

      oh! wow! I will check it out!

  4. You’re certainly reading some different books lately! Glad to hear that this one was good. It’s reminded me that I have to get back to my Christie reads. Detective stories are always a good way to escape. Hope your summer is going well! I’m going to try to email in the next couple of days so keep a look out!

    1. cirtnecce says:

      Yes; you are so right; I have been reading a lot of variety lately and I am so glad to be able to do that again! Detective stories are a great getaway and I too am back with Agatha Christie again! My summer is going as well as it can in these strange times! Looking forward to your email! 🙂

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