Review by Iola Goulton
Firing Line by Mike Hollow is part of the The Blitz Dectective series. It's a police procedural following Detective Inspector John Jago as he investigates murders in London's East End during the Blitz, those months in 1940 when the Germans were routinely bombing British cities, especially London.
As is almost expected with a murder mystery, Firing Line opens with the discovery of a body. Joan Lewis has been strangled, but her body is found behind a locked door. How? Was her assailant known to her? Where did the Navy uniform hat come from? And the hard-to-get American nylons?
The novel also addressed some of the political issues of the age, such as boy's clubs, greenshirts, and Social Credit (a political party I never understood, and understand even less now I know what it is).
Firing Line is the fourth novel in Mike Hollow's Blitz Detective series, but only the second one I've read (I reviewed Enemy Action a few weeks ago). It's a standalone mystery, so it won't matter if you haven't. I did find I appreciated some of the subtle humour in the interactions between Jago and Detective Constable Craddock all the more for having read one of the earlier books:
I do enjoy the dry British humour. Some is remarkably modern:
So #FakeNews isn't new.
I have lived in London, and the old ladies in my church would tell stories about their wartime experiences—one was evcuated from the East End to North London, and her old house was bombed a few days later (I think the same night as her son was born). I lived in North London, and there was still an Andersen shelter in the neighbour's garden
I also had great aunt who lived in London during the war years. Her husband was an ambulance driver, and had stories of driving down a street to rescue someone, and the street being demolished when he drove back an hour later. Fifty years later, my aunt could still mimic the sounds of the British Spitfires and Lancasters flying overhead on their way to Germany. I've experienced a similar sound myself, watching air displays from the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight. I once saw sixteen Spitfires flying at once, the largest formation since World War II.
London itself has changed since World War II. The East End bore the brunt of the German attacks, so much of it had been rebuilt by the time I lived in London. The Docklands area is the new financial district, but the Thames remains one of the major natural landmarks of the city.
I enjoyed the location of Firing Line and the memories it brought back. But it's a good read for mystery lovers with or without the memories. Recommended.
Thanks to Lion Fiction and NetGalley for providing a free ebook for review.
About Iola Goulton
Iola Goulton is a New Zealand book reviewer, freelance editor, and author, writing contemporary Christian romance with a Kiwi twist. She is a member of the Sisterhood of Unpronounceable Names (Iola is pronounced yo-la, not eye-ola and definitely not Lola).
Iola holds a degree in marketing, has a background in human resource consulting, and currently works as a freelance editor. When she’s not working, Iola is usually reading or writing her next book review. Iola lives in the beautiful Bay of Plenty in New Zealand (not far from Hobbiton) with her husband, two teenagers and one cat. She is currently working on her first novel.