London, June 1940. When the body of silent screen star Mabel Morgan is found impaled on railings in Fitzrovia, the coroner rules her death as suicide, but DI Ted Stratton of the Cid is not convinced. Despite opposition from his superiors, he starts asking questions, and it becomes clear that Morgan’s fatal fall from a high window may have been the work of one of Soho’s most notorious gangsters.
MI5 agent Diana Calthrop, working with the senior official Sir Neville Apse, is leading a covert operation when she discovers that her boss is involved in espionage. She must tread carefully – Apse is a powerful man, and she can’t risk threatening the reputation of the secret service.
Only when Stratton’s path crosses Diana’s do they start to uncover the truth. But as they discover Morgan’s connection with Apse and their mutual links to a criminal network and a secretive pro-fascist organisation, they begin to realise that the intrigues of the Secret Service are alarmingly similar to the machinations of war-torn London’s underworld.
“Secret service agents, gangsters, good honest cockneys and the blitz combine to make an immensely pleasurable read. Laura Wilson writes beautifully, creates characters we believe in and applies a vivid imagination to well-researched facts…convincing and exciting” Literary Review
“A thrilling ride through the mean streets and corridors of power of war-torn London. A tense, gripping tale of love, lust, deceit and murder” Mark Mills
“Stratton’s War is a compelling and wonderfully atmospheric murder mystery deftly woven into Blitz era London.”Robert Goddard
“The city’s wartime atmosphere is impeccably created and there are two brilliantly drawn characters.” Susanna Yager, Sunday Telegraph
“The plotting and pacing are superb. Wilson manages the two stories – of Stratton and Calthrop – with extraordinary adroitness, cutting between them at exactly the right moment, maintaining the narrative flow and interest. The characters compliment and contrast with each other, so that the dual narrative sustains and develops the book”. www.reviwingtheevidence.com
“Atmospheric and exciting”. Peter Guttridge, The Observer
“The relatively recent past is a hard period for a writer of historical fiction to pull off, but she has a genius for its language, its social stratification and its mores. This promises to be an exceptional series which will continue into the post-war period. Highly recommended. The Spectator
“A brilliant story following two different walks of life set across the backdrop of war-torn London.” Lizzie Hayes, Mystery Women
“Outstanding” Publisher’s Weekly
“Wilson (Telling Lies to Alice, 2004, etc.) kicks off this new series with memorable portraits of witheringly evasive Forbes-James, based in part on Charles Knight, the real spymaster behind Ian Fleming’s M, and family man Stratton, the sort of relative readers would all welcome into their homes.” Kirkus Reviews
Laura Wilson’s earlier novel The Lover, set in wartime London, was rightly praised for its evocation of place and period, and she is equally successful with Stratton’s War. This is not simply a question of period detail…it is deep in the language of the novel, in the speech of the characters, even in the narrative voice. Everything sounds authentic.” The Times