Book Title: The Dead Ground In Between
Author: Maureen Jennings
Publisher: Titan Books
Source: Sent to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review
Page Count: 297
Genre: Historical Crime
Audience: Those who enjoy nostalgic crime stories
Buy? Read? Avoid?: I recommend reading Dead Ground In Between and then if you like it then purchase the trilogy.
Summed up in one word: Authentic
Author Bio: Maureen Jennings is a Canadian teacher, writer and psychotherapist. MJ started her Murdoch Mysteries series in 1997 (7 in total to this date) and has also written the Tom Tyler Mysteries trilogy.
First Impression: This book was sent to me by Titan Books, I was not sure what to expect but I went in with an open mind. I thoroughly enjoyed this book. MJ has written many books already so her writing is comfortable and solid. This book does not break any new ground, but it does entertain, inspire and make us remember about our past. WW2 is an important time in our past and MJ treats it with the respect it deserves and provides us with some decent crime writing to go with it.
It is late 1942, and Detective Inspector Tom Tyler is settling into his placement in Ludlow, Shropshire, which is crowded with evacuees and others fleeing the German bombs. On the town s outskirts is an Italian PoW camp, whose inmates work on local farms. Fraternizing is forbidden but, as Tyler knows only too well, the human heart has a way of crossing boundaries.
Tyler is kept busy enforcing wartime regulations, until an old man goes missing, and his body is later discovered in a secret hideout supposedly known to very few. What s more, the two evacuee children who found the body are clearly not telling the whole truth, but when Tyler tries to question them further, they vanish from their foster home. A crime has clearly been committed, but there is no shortage of suspects...
(Synopsis from the book)
Story: The story in Dead Ground In Between has many different elements. We follow Detective Inspector Tom Tyler for about 95% of this book, with little plot pieces put in for the other characters to help the development of the story. As I said before, this book does not break any new ground, the author uses a great blend of historical events and World War 2 secrets to put together this piece; though it is nothing new. The story follows the police trying to work out how an old man managed to leave his house in middle of the night and end up dead inside a place no one should know about. This story then slowly turns from a mysterious death to a town wide Whodunnit? Though rather predictable in places, I did not manage to work out the ending before I got there.
The stand out element to this story, the one I think people will appreciate when they read this is the police work. I really appreciated the fact that the author had the characters doing proper police work as apposed to spontaneous on-the-spot revelations, there were a few moments that had some convenience to them but they were so well written that you barely notice. Prisoner of War and Refugee treatment in this country during the war was not something I contemplated before I read this book. It was factors like this and other small but potent story elements that kept me reading.
Characters: In DGIB we predominantly follow DI Tom Tyler. Characters like Tyler have been written many time before, it is fortunate thought that his character does not come across as too cliche. My favourite characteristic of Tyler is his kindness, along with his bigger picture attitude. I enjoyed my time with Tyler. The supporting cast are strong, sad, annoying and emotional. (SPOILER) >>>> The Edie and Angelo romance was a strong part to this story, it added risk and emotion. The tears started flowing when we get into Jan and Pim's storyline. They start out head strong and persistent to get home, put as their plan unfolds and they come into harms way, I was deeply saddened. The other characters were hit and miss, though overall a decent cast of characters.
Themes: Some big and bold themes here. War, Poverty, Death, Family and Secrets. Additional themes that added some extra depth were Romance, Pain, Risk and Violence.
Likes: Proper police work. Solid historical influences. Good cast of characters.
MJ capturing the everyday uncertainty that came with World War Two.
Dislikes: Some parts of the story left to assumption. Several annoying and stereotypical characters. Predictable at times.
Rating: Overall I think people will enjoy this book. It is solid story that won't blow your mind but will entertain and make you consider the past. MJ shows she is comfortable and confident in the story and her writing capabilities. I enjoyed Tom Tyler's character, he has been done before, but with added characteristics, I think he is top quality. DGIB is predictable at times but the ending remained a mystery to me until the very last word.