Princes Gate is a new series set in London during the "phoney war," that period between Sept., 1939 and May, 1940. Poland had been attacked, and the Germans were in the process of occupying the country. Britain and France declared war on Germany, but no significant offensive took place. On May 10, Germany occupied Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg, and that was the end of the
After Poland's demise, blackout measure were put in effect (and it would be 6 years before lights were again allowed after dark), evacuations planned, shelters prepared, and rationing begun, though not yet as strict as it would be.
It is during the phoney war that Princes Gate takes place. Frank Merlin is a detective who is saddled with too many cases and too few resources since many on the force have already enlisted. Two new cases occur: the hit-and-run death of an emigre scientist and a young woman who had worked in the American Embassy. These cases take priority for several reasons, but the case involving the American Embassy is especially troublesome--because Ambassador Joseph Kennedy is one of the biggest proponents for appeasement with Hitler and has aspirations of defeating Roosevelt in the next election.
Kennedy is not in the country at the time, but his opinions (and one of his minions) make investigating the murder of the young woman particularly sensitive, and numerous road-blocks are put in place. Well-written and well-researched, the novel plays large on the positions of both Kennedy and British proponents of appeasement. The atmosphere of the time feels realistic and palpable.
I look forward to more from this author, and more about DI Frank Merlin!
Crime/Historic Fiction. June 1, 2014. Print length: 329 pages.