The Stratford Murder (Blitz Detective 4)

Written by Mike Hollow
Review by Douglas Kemp

Joan Lewis, a young woman working as an usherette in a local cinema, is discovered dead, strangled in her sparsely furnished house in Stratford in east London. Detective Inspector John Jago is called in to investigate the murder. It is September 1940 and London continues to be attacked by German bombing raids, the disruption and death an ever-present violent chorus to the continuation of all sorts of crime and in the capital. Joan was married, but her husband Richard is missing in France after the Dunkerque evacuation; she was pregnant, but it could not have been by her husband. Joan’s family, friends and acquaintances need to be questioned and the necessarily messy and complicated filaments of a life untangled to get at the truth. Jago and his ever-reliable assistant Detective Constable Peter Cradock assiduously interview and question all those involved in the case.

As always with the author, this is a capably plotted police procedural, with a much relevant and absorbing historical background that informs without it turning into too much of a lecture, although just occasionally the characters do talk and explain matters a little to each other like a GSCE 20th-century British history textbook. The continuing relationship between Jago and the American journalist Dorothy proceeds at a sluggish pace – the reader wanting Jago to stop prevaricating and throw in his lot with the attractive and engaging Dorothy, for I am sure it is what she wants, too!