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Sure and Certain Death (Francis Hancock Mysteries) Paperback – 7 Jan 2010

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Product details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Headline (7 Jan. 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0755357604
  • ISBN-13: 978-0755357604
  • Product Dimensions: 12.7 x 2 x 20.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 839,327 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Trained as an actress, Barbara Nadel used to work in mental health services. Born in the East End of London, she now writes full time and has been a visitor to Turkey for over twenty years. She received the Crime Writers' Association Silver Dagger for her novel DEADLY WEB.

Product Description

Review

""Impeccable mystery plotting, exotic and atmospheric."" --Guardian" on" After the Mourning

Book Description

A brilliant evocation of the period and a truly unnerving, menacing and original novel

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Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

By Wynne Kelly TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 12 Oct. 2014
Format: Paperback
This is London in 1941. Francis Hancock is an Anglo-Indian undertaker. Even though he suffers from post-traumatic stress from his part in WWI he still finds time to investigate crimes. (This book is part of a series)

Women are being murdered in horrific ways and as the police are really too busy (??) Hancock steps in to help. Some of the descriptions of the bombing raids and their aftermath are well done even though the characters are all a bit one dimensional.
The victims seem to be linked to the White Feather group which operated during the 1914-18 war and Hancock is shocked to find out that his own sister was an active member of this group. It is all quite preposterous but reasonably entertaining.

And, of course, the perpetrator confesses all as soon as they are caught!

On a more serious note, I did have trouble with the character of Hannah. She is Hancock’s “lady friend” who happens to work as a prostitute. She seems fond of him but unwilling to give up her “independence” and marry him. Hard to believe that sex work in wartime London would be preferable to being married to a respectable man with his own business.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By jane alexander on 12 Feb. 2010
Format: Paperback
Having an undertaker as a detective is a wonderful idea, overcoming the problem faced by all fictional non-police detectives - how to account for one person encountering so many dead bodies!

However, this book never really comes to life - the author explains her characters rather than letting them reveal themselves to us, and they are all completely one-dimensional (the repressed religious spinister, the warm-hearted prostitute...yawn). As for the plot - well, it is simpy ridiculous.

Worst of all, this book is really badly written - clunky inelegant prose and actual grammatical errors. Barbara, you need someone to properly proofread your work.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Joan H. Hammond on 30 Jan. 2010
Format: Paperback
Barbara Nadel's latest Hancock novel engrossed me more than any other she has written in the Hancock series. It focuses on an area a mere 20 minutes walk from where I live and the places she refers to a more than just similar. Taking in personal tragedy, humanity in the face of overwhelming odds and all entwined around past events from a cruel time that have raised their ghostly heads and led to the grisly slaughter of young women, which, reluctantly, Francis Hancock has become involved in, only this time the events are hitting him more personally than in the past as they involve his dear sister, Nancy. My Grandparents lived in East London in WW1 and WW2 and building on Barbara Nadel's descriptive account of the places in East London (East Ham, Forest Gate, Plashet)brings it chillingly to life. The setting encompasses all the horrors that the blitz brought to people in East London, and provides a backdrop of the unfolding events that will see the reader unable to put this book down for long. For Nadel fans, Sure and Certain Death is a must-read, as it is for historians of East London.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Atmospheric, touching,different, and un-put downable! You are transported back into the world of London in the 1940's and 50's. The predjudices of those times against colourds, jews, any one who is "different" are brilliantly described here, and the complex character of Francis Hancock, strong in his very weakness, sings through the whole book. Brilliantly written, sympathetic, and ugly though Francis' world could be, in places, quite beautiful.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By M. J. Bourne on 20 Mar. 2010
Format: Paperback
Francis Hancock is a middle-aged, half-English, half-Indian undertaker whose London "manor" is being systematically dismantled by Hitler's Luftwaffe in World War Two. Now horribly mutilated women are showing up in the rubble, and it is clear a madman is murdering them. The police are undermanned and overworked, and Hancock finds himself pressured via family connections to investigate.
Hancock has been severely traumatised by his experiences in the First World War, and he frequently exhibits odd behaviour, such as running around the streets at night when the bombs are falling. He makes an interesting detective, although personally I find the idea of a man who regularly has nightmares of severed heads persisting in a profession where he regularly comes into contact with dead people a touch unlikely.
The supporting cast are much less clearly defined. Mostly they are similarly dressed, similarly spoken, similarly aged females. Not to give too much away, that's one of the main points of the book, but still I found it quite hard work keeping track of them all. I'm not the only one - the author mixes them up at least once. She also describes Lascars as being "mostly Hindus" and yet in the very next sentence says they are "Christians to a man".
As a "whodunit" this novel doesn't work too well. The vagueness of the characterisation and the paucity of clues make it difficult for the reader to engage with Hancock's detection work, and the resolution is unmoving. As an exposition of social history it is much better, and there are great insights into mid-war life and attitudes.
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