A Death in Mayfair (The DCI Frank Merlin Series)

Written by Mark Ellis
Review by Edward James

This is the third in Mark Ellis’s DCI Frank Merlin series, set in London in WW2. The action takes place over two weeks in December 1941, the weeks which saw the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour, America’s entry into the war, and the first disasters in the Far East.

Although the reader is kept in touch with the wider war, DCI Merlin has his hands full with organised crime in London. He and his team are investigating not one but two deaths in Mayfair, a young prostitute and a celebrity film star. There is a link between the two, but essentially, they are separate crimes with separate killers (I don’t think that is a spoiler, as nobody is a suspect for both crimes). Both are interesting stories, fast paced and with a host of colourful characters, but I found it disconcerting to have two whodunnits running simultaneously. Of course, real-life policing involves a lot of separate things going on all at once, and Ellis gives us a convincing hour-by-hour account of the life of Merlin’s team at Scotland Yard.

Merlin is a policeman, and there are no eccentric private detectives in the story. This is solid policework and the coppers get their men. ‘Police crime’ at its best.