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Friday, August 6, 2021

Review - Poppy Redfern & the Midnight Murders

During World War II, the Germans conducted mass air attacks against British industrial targets, towns, and cities, beginning with raids on London that was systematically bombed by the Luftwaffe for 56 out of 57 days and nights.  Overall eight months (247 nights) of bombing all over England never accomplished the surrender Hitler wanted.  

Underground stations sheltered as many as 177,000 people during the night. In the worst single incident, 450 were killed when a bomb destroyed a school being used as an air raid shelter.

England trained average citizens to assist during such air raids, which is what this main character does.  Charming and feisty Poppy Redfern stumbles into murder in this exciting new World War II historical mystery series from critically acclaimed author Tessa Arlen.

A little late to the party on this book, but better late than never! I meant to read this sooner, but just got around to it.

Author: Tessa Arlen

Copyright: Nov 2019 (Berkley) 320 pgs

Series: 1st in Woman of WWII Mystery series

Sensuality: innuendo mostly, nothing gory

Mystery Sub-genre: historical mystery, amateur Sleuth

Main Characters: Poppy Redfern, WWII Air Raid Warden 

Setting: 1942 England during WWII

Obtained Through: Library

Book Blurb: "Summer 1942. The world has been at war for three long and desperate years. In the remote English village of Little Buffenden, Poppy Redfern’s family house and farmland has been requisitioned by the War Office as a new airfield for the American Air Force. As the village's Air Raid Warden, Poppy spends her nights patrolling the village as she tries to ease her neighbors’ fears about the “Friendly Invasion” and what it means to their quiet way of life.

 When two young, popular women who were dating American servicemen are found strangled, Poppy quickly realizes that her little town has been divided by murder. The mistrust and suspicion of their new American partners in war threatens to tear Little Buffenden apart. Poppy decides to start her own investigation with the help of a charismatic American pilot and she soon unearths some chilling secrets and long-held grudges. Poppy will have no choice but to lay a trap for a killer so perilously close to home, she might very well become the next victim...."

Poppy Redfern is level headed and a determined young lady with a sense of duty who looks like Katherine Hepburn. I loved her right away. Lieutenant Griff O'Neal of the American Army Air Force is the potential romantic interest. Alice, Poppy's grandmother, is a darling-but old fashioned and doesn't like Poppy being an air raid warden.  Jasper, Poppy's grandfather, is a spitfire in his late seventies and he is a commanding officer in the local home guard.  

The first little bit is Poppy finishing training in London, but the rest is set in Little Buffenden. The small town is perfectly rendered and you feel the gossipy environ with its small town suspicions of the Americans at the nearby base. The sense of isolation permeates, too.

The plot of girls being murdered in the middle of the night and the insistence that it has to be the American pilots meant to aid in defending Britain's skies is a good premise.  The atmosphere of the town really heightens this tension.  The pacing was steady and kept me glued to the pages, anxious to read on.

 I love the harrowing killer reveal and this delivered beautifully. Tip of the hat on that score! Great wrap-up and the hint of adventures to come in London.

I am partial to fiction books set in this time period. But, that also means I can be a little picky about them as well.  This book excelled on all counts. Rich characters, compelling mystery, delightful writing style with atmospheric touches, and a hint of romance.  I am already turning to the next book in the series. I highly recommend.

Rating: Near Perfect - Buy two copies: one for you and one for a friend. 

Here is an actual reporting about the blitz from 

a reporter on the scene.

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