This historical crime novel is the first in the Ted Stratton Series. It takes place in London in the summer and autumn of 1940.
The former actress Mabel Morgan is found dead, impaled on the railings beneath her windows. It looks like suicide, but Detective Inspector Ted Stratton is not so sure. Neither is young, gay Joe Vincent whose flat Mabel lived in. Soon after Vincent is beaten up by some gangster types who are searching for something in the flat.
Another plot line deals with young, beautiful Diana Calthrop who is married to a drip and working for the War Office which she finds much more interesting. She is trying to infiltrate a right wing club, and at the same time handsome and mysterious Claude Ventriss decides to infiltrate the bored wife – quite successfully.
I enjoyed the setting; the peculiar sense of gaiety while the Londoners were waiting for the invasion. Children were sent off to the country, but adults seized the day, never certain another one would come while homosexuals struggled to keep their preference secret. On the other hand the Diana Calthrop vs Claude Ventriss plot annoyed me. I have never been very fond of the ´dangerous, yet irresistible man´ whom no woman can ward off.
Ted Stratton is the old-fashioned policeman who has not lost his integrity and struggles hard to solve his cases under fairly hopeless circumstances while the MI5 officers seem more interested in sweeping embarrassing truths under the carpet.
An intriguing and very satisfying mystery, and of course I will have to read more about the likeable Inspector Stratton. I think I bought the book myself, but it could be a gift or a win.