Book Review: Firing Line

21 Jun

Flames leap skyward from a blitzed factory in West Ham as an air raid destroys all in its path. When the blaze threatens neighbouring houses a volunteer fireman breaks in to rescue a trapped resident – but instead finds only the body of a young woman, strangled in her bedroom. For Detective Inspector John Jago the scene brings back memories of the Soho Strangler. He suspects this woman had a secret – that she is not what she seems – and that this may be the root of her untimely end. Investigation reveals a drunken sailor may hold the key to what happened in Joan Watson’s flat. But his information points Jago towards family jealousies, violence, robbery, and the underworld of political terrorism. Was Joan as innocent as her friends claim, or was she mixed up in crime? Jago must unpick multifarious motives if he hopes to reach the truth.


Mike Hollow was born in West Ham, on the eastern edge of London, and grew up in Romford, Essex. He studied Russian and French at the University of Cambridge and then worked for the BBC and later Tearfund. In 2002 he went freelance as a copywriter, journalist and editor. He’s a published poet, and nowadays when not writing about the Blitz Detective he makes his living as a translator.


My Impressions:

Firing Line is the fourth novel in the excellent Blitz Detective series by Mike Hollow. Set during the days of the London Blitz, this historical mystery/police procedural proves that crime does not stop for war. Smart and well-researched, this novel is perfect for those who love the classic mystery genre. Recommended.

DI John Jago is called in for another murder discovered in the aftermath of the nightly bombings ravaging London. Along with his wonderfully-written assistant, DC Craddock, he doggedly investigates the twisting-turning case that involves greed, jealousy, and political intrigue. I loved the historical touches that Hollow uses to achieve an authentic feel. Nightly trekkers, air raid wardens, Anderson Huts, and the bombing debris around every corner give the reader a glimpse into what it must have been like to be a Londoner at this terrifying time. And while the Germans threatened from the skies, criminals don’t take a holiday. Robbery, blackmail, and murder don’t seem to be affected by the turmoil of war. Jago is a consummate professional and uses all the resources of the time plus his intuition and insight to uncover just whodunit.

Jago’s character develops over the course of this series as he reflects on his service in the Great War and his experiences since. The newest world war causes him to explore questions of justice, fairness, hope, and the need to know and be known. The book is not Christian fiction, per se, but does bring up questions that only God can answer. For those who may find it offensive, there is a bit of adult language.

Firing Line proved to be a great read. The mystery was not easily solved by Jago or this reader 😉 , but its conclusion was both credible and satisfying. While it is part of a series, it can easily be read as a standalone. But I recommend you begin with book 1, The Blitz Detective, to follow the interesting cases and the intriguing main character John Jago.


Audience: adults.

To purchase, click HERE.

(Thanks to Lion Hudson and NetGalley for a complimentary copy. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)

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