A Death in Mayfair by Mark Ellis
On a bright Sunday morning in Hawaii, Japanese planes swoop down and attack the US naval base at Pearl Harbour. America enters the war and Britain no longer stands alone against Hitler.
Conditions on the home front remain bleak.
In a city pulverised by the Blitz, with rampant crime and corruption and overstretched police resources, life for Scotland Yard detective Frank Merlin continues as arduous as ever.
In the week of Japan's aggression, the shattered body of beautiful film star Laura Curzon is found on the pavement beneath her Mayfair apartment, an apparent suicide. A mile away, the body of a strangled young girl is discovered in the rubble of a bombed-out building
Merlin and his team investigate, encountering fraudulent film moguls, philandering movie stars, depraved Satanists and brutal gangsters as they battle through a wintry London in pursuit of the truth.
(Taken from Waterstones)
Although this book is part of a series it can also be read as a standalone. Having not read the previous DCI Frank Merlin novels, I immediately got to grips with the main characters. Ellis discretely provides significant details from previous story lines so that the reader is always fully up-to-date on the characters and plot but is never overloaded with information or diverted away from the flow of the story.
From the very start you are thrown into the action; armed police raid a house in search of a group of criminals, two are arrested but the rest manage to flee. This opening sets the precedence for the rest of the novel. It is brimming with action, crime and the law enforcers. Set during the Second World War adds a touch of uniqueness and delectation.
There is a lot going on in this novel, with two main mysteries to be solved: Firstly, the death of film star Laura Curzon and secondly, the identification of a strangled teenage body that is discovered. As these two story lines run parallel within the book you are greeted by a host colourful characters. I loved how contrasting the characters were; from the police men and women, to the criminals and those involved in the underworld; to the glamour of the movie stars and directors. Who would have thought that all of these different characters, and their story lines could weave so well together in a novel? It's complex, addictive and highly entertaining.
Another added bonus is the references and mini chapters devoted to the war. Here you get snippets of information on the attack on Pearl Harbour, the American's joining the war and of course hearing from some important leading figures: Winston Churchill and Franklin Roosevelt. I loved how this historical event simmered in the background of the novel, laying the not only the foundation for the setting but also giving the reader an insight into the criminal world that boomed during this time.
I thoroughly enjoyed this novel and am very grateful to Accent Press, Midas PR, Sophie Ransom and Martina Ticic for including me in A Death In Mayfair blog tour. I cannot wait to read more books by Mark Ellis, including the previous DCI Frank Merlin novels, and will definitely recommend this series to friends and family.
Mark Ellis is a thriller writer from Swansea and a former barrister. He is the creator of DCI Frank Merlin, an Anglo-Spanish police detective operating in World War 2 London. His books treat the reader to a vivid portrait of London during the war.
Mark grew up under the shadow of his parents’ experience of the Second World War. He has always been fascinated by the fact that while the nation was engaged in a heroic endeavour, crime flourished. His father served in the wartime navy and died a young man. His mother told him stories of watching the heavy bombardment of Swansea from the safe vantage point of a hill in Llanelli, and of attending tea dances in wartime London under the bombs and doodlebugs.
In consequence Mark has always been fascinated by WW2 and in particular the Home Front and the fact that while the nation was engaged in a heroic endeavour, crime flourished. Murder, robbery, theft and rape were rife and the Blitz provided scope for widespread looting.This was an intriguing, harsh and cruel world. This is the world of DCI Frank Merlin.
Mark Ellis’ books regularly appear in the Kindle bestseller charts. He is a member of the Crime Writers Association (CWA). His most recent book, Merlin at War, was on the CWA Historical Dagger Longlist in 2018. A Death in Mayfair will be published in November 2019.