Wednesday, June 20, 2012

E is for An Empty Death

An Empty Death by Laura Wilson is the second novel in a mystery series set in World War II London, and in the years following the war.

I enjoyed the first book in the series, The Innocent Spy (published as Stratton's War in the UK), but An Empty Death went beyond that one in characterization, plotting, and pacing. Both novels give a vivid picture of the wartime years in Great Britain, and how the war affected family life in particular. This one, set in 1944 after several years at war, focuses on the deprivation that was experienced during those years. There was very low availability of food and basic goods like cloth for clothing, razor blades for shaving, etc.

I don't want to imply that this is a book to read mainly for the World War II setting (which I have been known to do). This novel also provides a very good mystery. You think you know what is going on, and then it surprises you. The pacing in this novel really picks up at the half way point. And it leads to several unexpected events and twists in the plot. The characters are interesting and believable.

I have read reviews that quibble with the believability (or accuracy) of some of the major plot points, and they may be right. For me, I was so focused on the characters and the mystery that it never occurred to me to worry about whether these things could really happen. One character takes on various occupations and fools others into believing he has the background and credentials. I had no problem believing that he could be successful at this. Maybe I watch too many TV mysteries.

There are two later books in the Ted Stratton series, and those are both set in the postwar years. To my knowledge, they have not yet been published in the US. At Petrona, there is an overview of the series, and mention of three other authors of similar works (two very new to me).

Laura Wilson has written eleven novels, many of them being historical mysteries. The Lover, published in 2004, is based on an actual serial killer in London during World War II, called the "Blackout Ripper." I plan to seek out several of her earlier novels also. There are summaries of all of Laura Wilson's novels and excerpts at her website.

The author and her dog, Freeway

This post is my contribution to the Crime Fiction Alphabet community meme for this week. Please visit the post at Mysteries in Paradise to check out other entries for the letter E.


Peggy Ann said...

This sounds really good and I love the cover. I will look for it!

Unknown said...

I haven't heard of this author but I love the sounds of her books, especially the serial killer one set in the WWII setting. Thanks for the review.

Anna said...

I would read it just for the WWII aspect, but it does sound like there's so much more to it. Thanks for bringing this series to my attention.