The Enemy Within

Written by Edward Marston
Review by Alan Cassady-Bishop

During the Great War, in London, a dangerous arsonist manages to escape from Pentonville prison, and Inspector Marmion, the arresting officer, is given the task to re-capture him. While Marmion shrugs off the threats he received when in court, he cannot ignore the possibility that Wally Hubbard intends to kill Croft, the man who was the target of the original fire.

Assisted by his Sergeant Keedy, Marmion finds that tracking down Croft is as hard as finding the escapee. When a murdered down-and-out is found in a Salvation Army hostel, with documents belonging to the potential victim, the waters are very muddy indeed! The police suspect Hubbard is being assisted by his two close friends—a girlfriend and a shady property speculator—but would they help him kill? And, in the background of it all, Marmion is struggling to help his wife cope with his son who is suffering from shell shock and whose behaviour is becoming increasingly outrageous and violent.

In this sixth in the “Home Front Detective” series, Marston paints involving scenes in civilian life coping during the Great War. Crime goes on, despite the wholesale carnage in Europe, and the portrayal of policing in the period is almost refreshing. The plotline is very well paced, as expected from a prolific author. The characters are three-dimensional and believable and behave in perfectly understandable ways.