This is the first of a planned series of crime novels set in 1940s London. DI Ted Stratton is a decent man in an ever-darkening world, struggling in both his professional and personal life. He is tasked with investigating the gruesome death of silent screen star Mabel Morgan. Despite opposition from his superiors he starts asking questions of this apparent suicide. This sets in train a complex series of murky events and even murkier characters at the top and bottom of war time society. As the city endures its daily ration of bombs, blackouts and watered-down beer, Stratton soon understands that his case is linked to a MI5 investigation into a secretive pro-fascist organization. He must tread carefully as the intrigues of the Secret Service are alarmingly similar to those of war-torn London’s underworld. He is dealing with powerful men who have the ability to destroy his career.
Wilson portrays wartime London with a deft touch, blending contemporary detail with well-drawn characters, especially those from the working class. Stratton’s domestic scenes work especially well with convincing dialogue. Unfortunately the book loses its way slightly over the final third with the plot taking too long to unravel to maintain the tension right through to the denouement.