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on 31 July 2009
This is a lengthy, intricate and necessarily leisurely read. It is also a very absorbing one. Wartime London amidst the bombs and blackout makes a bleak but graphic canvas for murder, nascent Fascism and subversive intrigue. The two protagonists, Stratton and Diana - robust policeman and refined Secret Service recruit (loosely based on real life agent Joan Miller) - are believable and sympathetically drawn, and their widely differing milieux realistically portrayed. Indeed, one of the strengths of the novel is the way that Laura Wilson collates and blends the various professional fields, domestic contexts and social strata. The suave and seamy, the urbane and humdrum, crisp ruthlessness and crude thuggery are deftly manipulated to produce a thriller of compelling realism. The pace may be leisurely but the prose is delivered with clarity, style and punchy humour; and the auxiliary characters - such as M I 5 chief Forbes-James, or Diana's distasteful husband - are sharply defined. Blackmail, espionage, illicit sex, unexplained deaths - yes, these are the classic ingredients of crime fiction; but set against and woven into the heightened ethos of the London Blitz, they take on an additional frisson. Set in a world of complex ambiguity, the novel's ending is appropriately oblique and prepares the reader for fresh developments.
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on 13 January 2009
DI Ted Stratton is a policeman working in central London in 1940. He is married to Jenny and their two children have been sent out of London. for safety. His home life is happy apart from the constant entreaties from his wife, which he is beginning to dread, to bring back the children from the country as she misses them. His extended family leave something to be desired, but we all have the same problems in this area.

He is called to investigate the death of silent screen star Mable Morgan who has been found dead impaled on railing outside her flat. The verdict is suicide, but Ted is not so sure, and against his superiors advice he starts asking questions.

On the other side of the tracks we meet Diana Calthrop, a tall elegant blonde who is recruited into MI5 working with senior official Sir Neviile Apse. Diana meets handsome Claude Ventriss and against her better judgement and her colleagues advice, is attracted by Claude. Diana is on sticky ground all round, she is married to Guy, who is serving abroad, but unlike Ted Stratton her marriage is not happy, and with her home life scrutinised by her mother-in-law, and a job that is by its very nature secretive, she really has no one she can trust.

As Ted delves further into the circumstances surrounding the death of Mable Morgan he finds links to the criminal underworld that in turn lead him to Diana's secret world, and thus their paths cross.

A brilliant story following two different walks of life set across the backdrop of war-torn London.
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Lizzie Hayes
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 13 August 2013
Sometimes it's good to read something that is just a great piece of entertaining story-telling: no postmodern posturings, no elaborate subtexts, no deep allegories or meanings - and this fits the bill perfectly. Set in 1940 during the London Blitz, it combines a police procedural with the murky doings of MI5 as pro-Fascist groups try to keep America out of the war.

Against this background, DI Ted Stratton (mercifully free of depression, a tragic backstory and/or alcoholism, with a fully-functioning marriage and a wandering eye for a girl's legs) is investigating a suspicious suicide and a murder. Alongside this is a second plot involving Diana Calthorp, a well brought up upper-class `gel' who finds excitement in war work - and an illicit affair. Of course, the two strands don't stay separate for long...

This is an absorbing read though not without its flaws: the plot is complex but does rely on that crime-writer's perennial favourite: The Outrageous Coincidence (in this case, more than one). The pacing gets protracted, too, towards the end with the domestic doings of Ted's extended family taking up too much space, and with the loose ends of the plot taking far too long to get tied up.

But despite these niggles this is a book which it's very easy to sink in to. In some ways it has old-fashioned values (in a good way): it's well-written, well-researched, has a good plot and characters - it's not `saying' something, but tells a good story very well.
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on 5 October 2015
After a slowish and slightly muddly start this settled into a thoroughly enjoyable read.
Hugely atmospheric and full of very real fully fleshed out characters. I loved the fact that no truck was given to today's political correctness and the dialogue was spoken as it would have been in wartime Britain.
I look forward very much to reading more in this series
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on 25 August 2015
Bought on the strength of a review somewhere this was, initially, disappointing. But the more I read the more I was impressed with Laura Wilson's ability to convincingly create the place and the time -1940s London - without resort to clunkiness. That said, the stiff attitudes of Ted Stratton and Diana Calthorpe, while interesting and authentic, made for somewhat less than absorbing characters
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on 13 July 2009
A very complex plot and suitably confusing for a novel involving the secret service. Nice ambiguous ending as well.
The story starts with a simple, apparently, death and becomes more and more of a tangled web as the investigation by the one police officer who did not accept the coroner's suicide verdict continues. At the same time the british intelligence service is infiltrating the Hitler appeasing group of the establishment. Eventually the two strands of investigation become entwined.
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Stratton's War by Laura Wilson was for me an excellent read which at the end I was totally addicted to the very edgy Detective Inspector Stratton along with the very beautiful(especially her ankles) Diana Calthrop who was part of the MI5. As Stratton pursued the answers to what actually caused the death of Mabel Morgan the down in her luck actress of the silent movie era, Diana was pursuing answers to her own questions but unfortunately for both characters each of them did not like where their questions were starting to lead them plus the fact how those same questions were becoming involved with people they would rather not be involved with plus the fact those same people had their own way of controlling the answers both of them needed to hear. Even in their home life both characters had their own problems to deal with and in both cases these problems were starting to overtake their work life which they tried so hard not to mix the two. As the author used both characters to narrate their own story, I was kept riveted to the goings on in blacked out London where sometimes the only lights outside of the home came from the bombs which fell on them on a nightly business.
The author has written the book in such a way that I was fully able to understand how hard it was for Stratton to continue working in such bad conditions even including a bomb landing on top of the police station he worked in. As Stratton continued his investigation he soon realises that those further up in MI5 were getting nervous as he was looking into the lives of those who had power in their hands within the government which ruled at this time. What I loved about Laura Wilson as an author was the fact she had me gripped from the first page with the very vivid and sometimes eccentric characters within the pages and she also showed me a part of London's history in a way which was totally fresh and new compared to other authors which have written about this period of time.
I loved reading this book mainly because one of the main characters, namely Stratton reminded me of another war time police officer from the same period of time though he was famously based in Hastings and he is Detective Inspector Foyle though I found their personalities were so far part even their way of searching out their answers but both of them found their bad guys in their own unique ways. I found Stratton excellent at his job but a real east end cop who had a good heart but had rough edges which give him another dimension while Foyle though still excellent at his job was rather more strait-laced than Stratton.
I highly recommend Stratton's War by Laura Wilson as an excellent read which will has so many twists and turns you will not be able to guess what the final outcome will be.
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on 18 November 2014
Just in case it helps -Very strong language used. Set in war torn London, Laura Wilson's novel, in introducing Detective Inspector Ted Strattton, conjures up mystery, murder and intrigue. A beautiful spy is also a central character and the way different worlds become interwoven leads to an enjoyable story. And leaving you hoping to meet the characters again. Glad someone recommended Laura Wilson's books to me.
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on 7 October 2013
As an aficionado of crime fiction, I thought that this work was ok. However, as a student of history and social science, I thought that it was very good. It is because the book is classified as crime fiction that I give it three stars rather than five. One is left in no doubt quite early in the narrative who the perpetrators are, so it's not much of a whodunnit. The fascination is how they get away with it. The book illustrates how it is possible for one section of one class of society to get away with murder because it belongs to the ruling class. Another fascinating aspect of the work is the insight it gives one into the impact which total war has on different groups in society. Anyone interested in wartime Britain should read this well written book.
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on 16 March 2008
A superb, atmospheric novel of the hardships and day to day lives of londoners in 1940. Better in my opinion than John Lawton's 'Blackout' I hope this will be the beginning of a series involving Stratton, a hardworking copper trying to do his job in impossible conditions. Complicated by the involvement of MI5 and the cloak and dagger brigade, just gives a hint of the problems encountered trying to maintain this countries internal security.
Well worth a read
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