The Book: 1942. Hull, East Yorkshire – It is the most heavily-bombed city outside of London – but for the sake of national morale the Hull Blitz is kept top secret. Only the politicians in Whitehall and Hull’s citizens themselves know of the true chaos.
Newly-posted Inspector Ambrose Swift cannot believe the devastation he finds. But for Swift and his two deputies – part-time bare-knuckle boxer Jim ‘Little’ Weighton and Dales farmer’s daughter Kathleen Carver – it’s murder, not the war, that’s at the forefront of their minds.
When a series of sadistic killings is wrongly blamed on locally-stationed black American GIs, Swift, a one-armed former WW1 cavalryman who tours the rubble-strewn city on a white horse, soon discovers these are no ordinary murders. The fetid stench of racism, corruption and perversion go to the very top. And for Swift, Weighton and Carver, finding the real killers means putting their own lives at risk – because powerful forces in the US and Britain cannot let the war effort be undermined. Not even by the truth.
Purchase Link: Amazon UK
The Review: I don’t often come across crime books set during a war but having watched and loved Foyle’s War a few years ago, this one caught my interest. When you think of either of the two world wars you tend to think of the fighting abroad, bombing of London, etc. What you don’t tend to think of is the people left behind and what is going on in the UK. Despite there being a war on crimes, including murder still happened, in fact the crime rate increased during these years with many crimes being hidden through blackouts and bombings with people which is exactly what the murder(s) tried to do in this book.
The story starts with a murder, a body found in an area recently bombed, but something makes it stand out from all the others. This is one of the things I liked about this book, it gets straight into the story, no introductory chatting between characters or anything like that, nope, it takes us straight to a crime scene with the main character Inspector Swift. I liked Swift as a character, he doesn’t take any nonsense but he’s also the type that sees the person and the impact their death has had on family and friends. He wants justice for the person, regardless of who they are and that’s refreshing in a story where there is also judgement and racism from many others. Equally Weighton and Carver were also good characters, between the three of them they made a good team and shared the same sentiments of finding justice for the victim. We get some background of all three characters but I would like to see more, however I’m hoping this is the first book in a series and that more background will come out in future books.
I like historical fiction and this book ticks all the boxes for me. It had lots of details of blackouts, car lights being covered so you could see the road but only just, damage to buildings and businesses by the bombs, lack of road signs as they were removed, etc. The details were brilliant, they really brought to life the impact of the bombing on Hull and how the war affected people’s lives in many different ways. The details and description add to the story, they are perfectly balanced with the police investigation and both work together to give a really solid, well-balanced story that I really enjoyed.
The Author: East Yorkshire-born David Young began his East German-set crime series on a creative writing MA at London’s City University when Stasi Child – his debut – won the course prize. The novel went on to win the 2016 CWA Historical Dagger, and both it and the 2017 follow-up, Stasi Wolf, were longlisted for the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year. His novels have been sold in eleven territories round the world. Before becoming a full-time author, David was a senior journalist with the BBC’s international radio and TV newsrooms for more than 25 years. He writes in his Twickenham garden shed and in a caravan on the Isle of Wight. The Stasi Game, his sixth novel, is available to pre-order now. You can follow him on Twitter @djy_writer