The Blitz Detective by Mike Hollow

I’m pleased to share my review for The Blitz Detective by Mike Hollow, published by Allison and Busby last week. Thank you to the publisher for a digital review copy via NetGalley – my thoughts are my own and not influenced by the gift. This book was published previously as Direct Hit (The Blitz Detective).

Synopsis:

Saturday 7th September, 1940.

The sun is shining, and in the midst of the good weather Londoners could be mistaken for forgetting their country was at war – until the familiar wail of the air-raid sirens heralds an enemy attack. The Blitz has started, and normal life has abruptly ended – but crime has not.

That night a man’s body is discovered in an unmarked van in the back streets of West Ham. When Detective Inspector John Jago is called to the scene, he recognises the victim: local Justice of the Peace, Charles Villiers. The death looks suspicious, but then a German bomb obliterates all evidence. War or no war, murder is still murder, and it’s Jago’s job to find the truth.

My thoughts:

I enjoyed this crime fiction / historical fiction book. I must admit that I was initially drawn to the book after reading the synopsis because the victim’s surname is Villiers and I am employed by the social mobility charity Villiers Park Educational Trust.

An older detective is working with a young detective to solve a murder of a local businessman and magistrate, complicated by the evidence being destroyed by a German bomb. I enjoyed the criminal investigations and also the historical details – 1940’s London was brought to life.

I look forward to reading more of the books featuring DI Jago – a number of the other books by Mike Hollow in the series are being republished by Allison and Busby over the next few months.

Mike Hollow information (from Goodreads):

I first got into print when I was eleven. A boys’ comic published a feeble limerick I’d sent them and paid me five shillings, a fat sum at that age. But the postal order was nothing compared with seeing my words in print.

After that I kept writing – teenage poems for a late-1960s “underground magazine”, then grown-up poems, and later a happy mix of copywriting, journalism, editing and translating. All ways of getting paid for playing with words.

My CV? I was born in 1953 in the Essex County Borough of West Ham – home of the Blitz Detective – on the eastern edge of London. I grew up mainly in Romford and went to the Royal Liberty School, then studied Russian and French at Cambridge University.

My first job was translating for the BBC, and I did various jobs there for sixteen years before moving to work in communications for development agency Tearfund, travelling widely in Africa, Asia and Latin America. In 2002 I went freelance as a writer, editor and creative project manager. Now I earn a living by translating and spend the rest of my time in the cellar of my house in Hampshire chronicling the adventures of the Blitz Detective.

Why write detective novels? Because I enjoy reading them and I love to create entertaining stories. Why set them in that place and time? Because overnight the Blitz turned everyday existence into a life-and-death struggle for ordinary people – and some of them were my family. 

A Map of the Damage Sophia Tobin



I’m thrilled to share my review for one of my favourite time slip historical fiction books. Thank you to Simon and Schuster UK for a stunning paperback copy – my thoughts are my own and are not influenced by the gift. A Map of the Damage was published in paperback in April 2020.

Synopsis:

London, 1941. Livy makes her way through Blitz-torn London to the Mirrormakers’ Club, the only place that makes her feels safe, where she finds herself drawn into the mystery of a missing diamond, and torn between two men with competing claims on her.
 
London, 1841Charlotte is helped from the scene of an accident by a man who shows her a building he is working on, and whose kindness unlocks a hope she has long kept buried. But that man is not her husband.
 
Two women, a century apart, united by one place: the Mirrormakers’ Club. A building which holds echoes of past loves and hates, and hides the darkest of secrets in its foundations.

My thoughts:

This is the first book written by Sophia Tobin that I have read. I loved studying history in school and enjoy reading historical fiction. I believe that Sophia Tobin has captured the feel of the Blitz in this book – how lives were changed in a split second during the bombings and how people fought to save historical buildings, often putting their own lives at risk to do so. Livy has lost her memory after a near death experience and finds herself helping at the Mirrormakers’ Club where she once worked.

A century earlier, Charlotte, in Victorian England, is helped at the scene of an accident by the architect of the Mirrormakers’ Club. This chance encounter leads to a set of events which will change the course of history for both Charlotte and Livy.

This book had me hooked very quickly, I genuinely didn’t want to put it down. So many mysteries to be uncovered, so many secrets had been kept and there is one building full of clues to both stories. I loved the storytelling and historical details – this is so beautifully written that it was easy to feel that you were actually on the roof of the Club in the middle of an air raid or being waited on in the salon de printemps at Redlands.

If you enjoy historical fiction /romantic fiction/ mysteries, then please read a copy of A Map of the Damage. If you have read other books by Sophia Tobin, I would love to hear your thoughts – I’ve added them to my wish list.

Sophia Tobin:

Sophia Tobin was raised in Kent. She has studied History and History of Art, and worked for a Bond Street antique dealer for six years, specialising in silver and jewellery. She currently works in a library and archive. Inspired by her research into a real eighteenth-century silversmith, Tobin began to write The Silversmith’s Wife, which was shortlisted for the Lucy Cavendish College Fiction Prize.  It was published by Simon & Schuster in 2014. Her second novel, The Widow’s Confession, was published in 2015, and her third, The Vanishing, in 2017. 


View all my reviews