Monday, July 27, 2015

Direct Hit by Mike Hollow

I like a good detective story and historical novel, if it is written well. This one is.

The time is 1940 and the place is London. It is the first night of the Blitz. A man is found dead in his van with the suspicion of murder. Detective Inspector Jago is called to the scene. Just as he and his assistant make their observations, the sirens blow. Jago has enough time to recognize the dead man before the policemen head to safety. When the bombing is over and they return to the scene of the crime, all that remains is a huge crater.

That's the beginning of this good detective novel set in WW II London. The historical aspect of the novel is superbly done. We get great descriptions of the city and the bombings. We also get an idea of the atmosphere at the time. There were those who would pay good money to have their call-up papers lost so they would not have to go to war. There were others who were embracing the ideas of Marx, unhappy with the class distinctions. I can tell the author has done a great deal of background research.

The detective story itself is good. The characters are well presented. I liked Jago. He is my kind of guy. When young, he spent hours in the local public library, plugging some of the gaps in his education. The older he got, he says, the more gaps he found. Isn't that why we read?

As a side story, Jago is asked to help an American reporter. To his surprise, it is a woman. I really liked the interaction between the two. It was fun to have a little humor at times in their relationship. For example, when a fellow policeman remarked that the reporter was a confident lady, Jago comments, “She's American, that's all. I think they breed them more confident over there.” (201)

The novel has a good mystery, the historical aspect is well done, and the characters are great. I recommend this novel to those who like British historical mysteries.

Food for thought: Jago, reflecting on the men he saw killed in WW I, says, “Now it feels like my duty to take each day as a gift and not to leave to tomorrow what I can do today.” (216)

You can find out more about the author and the Blitz Detective series here.

Mike Hollow was born in West Ham, home of the Blitz Detective. He worked for the BBC translating, then after various jobs, worked in communications for developing agency Tearfund. In 2001 he went freelance as a writer, editor and creative project manager. He now earns his living by translating spending the rest of his time in the cellar of his house in Hampshire chronicling the adventures of DI Jago.

Lion Hudson, distributed in the U.S. by Kregel Books, 318 pages.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Kregel for the purpose of an independent and honest review.
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