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3.3 out of 5 stars
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3.3 out of 5 stars
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I have been a fan of this series of Laura Wilson's novels featuring DI Stratton and was looking forward to this latest addition. But I did not find this a particularly engaging story. The first half lacked the customary tension that the three previous novels achieved. By the end I really did wonder if the primary aim had been to write a novel about religious cults rather than to move the Stratton series forward with a grittier and more London based crime. The story around Stratton's personal life, which has been one of the strenghts of the series, was also oddly dull. As ever Laura Wilson captures period wonderfully well but this is not enough to sustain a good story. Overall, disappointing by her normal standards.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 20 February 2014
I’ve enjoyed Laura Wilson’s other Stratton books but this one is lacklustre in comparison and feels a bit uninspired. This is odd since in the afterword Wilson talks about how her depiction of the Foundation, what we would call a religious cult today, is based on her real-life experience. Maybe she was worried about too much self-revelation but there’s a lot of vagueness in this story: the characters in the Foundation are not delineated enough to become distinguishable and we’re never told enough to make what sense of what they believe or stand for, especially around the status of Michael.

Added to that, the ongoing story of Stratton, his on-off relationship with Diana, his troubled relationship with his son, and the secret being kept from him by his daughter all feel a bit unconvincing here to the point of being dreary.

So a disappointing book in what is a good series.
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on 1 July 2013
I love the DI Stratton books but this was my least favourite by a long way. There was a lack of the inter character humour that I have enjoyed in previous books; everyone has suddenly grown very serious and for some reason quite boring. I actually skim read parts of it, which is something I rarely do with a favourite author but I was verging on boredom myself. Very disappointing, I hope the next will be better.
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on 18 July 2014
The connection between UFO fears, the Cold War and a strange cult and its supporting foundation, located in Suffolk, is left as background, when it might have improved a mostly weak story in Laura Wilson’s otherwise thoughtful D I Stratton series. Characters tend to the stereotypical: the victim taken in by the edges of religious obsession and deception; the financial backer; and, most of all, the spiritual guru. The rickety structure of the foundation duly collapses under the pressure of Stratton’s good sense, though his personal life creates some distraction – from the plot, as well. I like reading Laura Wilson’s newspaper column on detective fiction and I enjoyed the Stratton books set in London during the Second World War. I’ll now try another post-war Stratton novel, “Capital Crime”.
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on 13 June 2013
... but it's a long way from her best in this series. Nevertheless, if you've enjoyed the Stratton series so far, you'll enjoy this. If you haven't met Stratton yet he comes highly recommended, but do read in order - the novels stand alone, but there are some ongoing threads which add 'body' (inadvertent pun - sorry!) to the stories.
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on 17 June 2014
Going from the other reviews, I prepared myself to be disappointed by this 4th Stratton novel. However, I loved the book and found the subject matter both interesting and well woven into the plot. Perhaps it's not a book to be read in a hurry but it's lovely to find a good mystery which is worth savouring.
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on 14 December 2014
A Willing Victim is the fourth book in Laura Wilson’s historical police procedural series set in and around London the 1940s and 50s. In this outing, Stratton is investigating the death of a strange young man in a Soho bedsit who is obsessed with spirituality, the trail leading him to a Suffolk village and a secretive, cultist sect. It’s an engaging story that is nicely contextualised with respect to the religious foundation (drawing on Wilson’s own experiences of being raised in such an environment) and the period, has a strong sense of place, and has well drawn characters, especially DI Stratton, the charismatic Mary Milburn, and author Ambrose Tynan. The plot is well constructed, with plenty of intrigue, blinds and feints and has a credible and gripping denouement that doesn’t slip into melodrama. The narrative is a little over-elaborated in places, especially in the sub-plots, but overall it proved an enjoyable and entertaining read.
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on 30 July 2013
The novel does not seem to me to be as effective as the previous Detective Stratten books principally I think because there is rather too much "plot" --- and fairly convoluted at that--- and therefore not as much depth of charcterisation as in the previous excellent novels.
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on 4 March 2015
It is 1956 and the police plodding is ultra slow. Doubly so, because in addition to detective Stratton’s personal woes I found myself equally bored by those of his male colleague. These private diversions detract from the central murder mystery and the conundrums involving a 12-year-old messiah. Suspense is absent.
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on 6 June 2012
This is another episode in the Inspector Stratton Seies. I enjoyed it although there were a few loose ends.
The story concerns a religious cult and the villain goes in and out of the group. I don't want to spoil the plot but I found the central character a mystery. The motive for the characters' behaviour to others was never revealed.
Apart from that it was a good page-turner and the continuing characters in the series are well-drawn and relate to contemporary events.
There is a movie about an alligator mentioned. This was a popular British film in the '50's as was "A Kid for Two Farthings".
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