Thursday, May 28, 2020

Book Review: Poppy Redfern and the Midnight Murders by Tessa Arlen (Woman of World War II Mysteries #1)

Stars: 3 out of 5
Pros: Poppy, details about the time period
Cons: Much of cast weak, uneven pacing
The Bottom Line:
Murder in village
Poppy must patrol and solve
Book could be stronger

Strangler in the Village

I’ve been making a concerted effort to read more historical mysteries, which means trying out new authors.  Since I had Poppy Redfern and the Midnight Murders sitting on my bookshelf, I decided now was a good time to travel back to World War II.

It’s the summer of 1942, and Poppy is doing her part for the war effort as the air-raid warden for her village of Little Buffenden.  Her job is to walk around each night and make sure that all windows and doorways are covered up.  With an American Air Force base near her small village, their chance of being the target of an attack have increased.

The Americans nearby have caused quite a stir in the village, with some denouncing them outright while others, especially the young women, seem to find them fascinating.  When not one but two young women who have started dating Americans turn up dead, the evidence quickly points to one of the Americans.  Poppy just doesn’t buy it, however.  Teaming up with a handsome American pilot, Poppy sets out to find the truth no matter where it leads.  But has she just made herself a target of the killer?

World War II is one of the time periods that fascinate me, so I was happy to disappear into that time and Poppy’s corner of England.  The author has clearly done her research, and details of daily life fill the page.

Unfortunately, they also push out the plot at times.  I found the mystery very uneven.  Some interesting developments would be followed by pages of Poppy rehashing them as she goes about daily life.

Which is a shame because I love Poppy.  She is an interesting main character, and I could see some growth in her character here.  She is strong enough to carry a series.  The rest of the cast doesn’t hold up quite as well.  I never felt like we got to know most of the residents in the village.  A few stood out, but not quite enough to draw us into Poppy’s world.

This isn’t a bad book, and I would get drawn into the story at times.  But I wasn’t captivated as much as I had hoped I would be.

So Poppy Redfern and the Midnight Murders turned out to be a mixed book.  If the time period interests you, pick it up.  Hopefully, the series will improve as it goes along.

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