The second Thomas Oscendale novel, following the success of ''The Dead of Mametz''.
Fresh from the horrors of the Great War on the Western front, military policeman Thomas Oscendale is enjoying leave in his South Wales hometown when he is drawn into the investigation of the savage murder of a war widow.
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"Nobody reads a mystery to get to the middle. They read it to get to the end. If it''s a letdown, they won''t buy anymore. The first page sells that book. The last page sells your next book." MICKEY SPILLANE
On the basis of the above analysis Jonathan Hicks successfully sold me on both. Beginning as it does in the hell that was Gallipoli we are thrown straight into the horror and drama of WWI. But as if that were not enough to contend with Thomas Oscendale''s leave is taken up with the investigation of a series of grisly murders in his home town of Barry, south Wales. Why are war widows being burned alive and what is the connection with the sinister Major Lucas?
The plot takes many surprising twists and turns before reaching it''s entirely unexpected denouement and the battlefield descriptions are powerful and harrowing.
At one point Oscendale is picked up by a tank crew in no man''s land. He accompanies them as they assault the German lines:-
''The tank jolted along, lifting and falling with the rise and fall of the ground. After hitting his head on a piece of metal again he curled up into a foetal-like ball with his hands over his head and waited for it all to stop. He knew he was safer in here than he had been lying out in the open but he was aware he was still in mortal danger.
There was a loud bang on the right hand side of the tank and he felt it slew to the left, but to his relief they kept going. Seconds later another anti-tank round hit the right-hand side again and a piece of metal as big as a fist flew across to the other side, catching one of the crew in the head. He saw the man fall screaming to the floor, his hands covering the bloody pulp of what had been his face.''
Amidst the carnage Oscendale struggles to solve the series of interconnected murders that link his hometown to the battlefront.
This book will appeal to lovers of both crime and historical fiction. It combines a first rate murder mystery with a realistic and gruesome account of the effects of mechanised warfare. Not to be missed!