Friday, September 23, 2016

The Fifth Column

Another day, another air raid. For Detective Inspector John Jago,  there's nothing unusual when two men report a body at one of the air raid sites.  However, the initial investigation reveals that the body wasn't at the site the previous night, and no bombs had fallen in the area since. Could it be foul play? Supplies have gone missing from the classified office where the young woman worked; her sister seems indifferent, and not all stories match up.  As Jago investigates the case, it seems everyone has something to hide....

The Fifth Column by Mike Hollow is the first novel in a new series, The Blitz Detective. As the title suggests, the novel focuses on a British detective during WWII.  The historical setting provides both atmosphere and motivation for several plot elements without becoming too dense for causal reading.

Mysteries aren't my usual reading fare, but I'm familiar with the basic genre conventions.  Two writing elements stood out for me in this book. First, the number of characters and perspectives. I'm not sure how common this  tactic is in mysteries (historical or otherwise), but there were at least half a dozen characters/perspectives in the book. While they did overlap to a certain extent, it made it tricky to judge which information would be relevant to the murder. It's not the same as red herrings or false leads, but I'm not quite used to it.

The second aspect I noticed (related if one likes to try solving mysteries ahead of the book) is that some of the motivations would have been inexplicable if they had not been spelled out by characters. For example, 1940s methods of dying hair have a certain relevance, but I didn't even think about it until one of the female characters brings it up to Jago.  It's not the sort of thing a single man would know, but it still seemed ....lecturish?

I would probably still recommend this book, but I doubt I'll reread it,

I was given a free copy of this book from Kregel Publications in exchange for an honest review.