It's the summer of 1942 and Poppy Redfern's family home and farmland have been requisitioned by the War Office as a new airfield for the American Air Force. Wanting to do her bit for the war effort, too, Poppy trains as an Air Raid Warden in London, and now she's back in Little Buffenden.
Many of the villagers are worried about all the wild Americans on their doorstep, so Poppy often finds herself patrolling the streets at night attempting to ease her neighbors' fears as she tells them to fasten their blackout curtains.
When two young, popular women who were dating American servicemen are found strangled, the villagers know without a doubt that an American has to be the killer. Poppy isn't so sure. With the help of an American pilot, she sets out to do some investigating of her own and is surprised by the secrets and grudges she unearths.
I love a good historical mystery, and I am so thankful for writers like Jacqueline Winspear and Susan Elia MacNeal for their series featuring women in war. Poppy Redfern and the Midnight Murders, Tessa Arlen's first Woman of World War II mystery, is an excellent addition.
From the opening scenes in London where Poppy was trained during almost nightly air raids, I was hooked. From London, readers move to the village homefront during the war. Fear, shortages, ration books, distrust of any stranger, Arlen brings the setting to life as Poppy walks the streets of Little Buffenden in the light of day and the pitch black of night. Poppy is an excellent protagonist. She's not quite village and not quite gentry, so she can move about in both worlds-- although she does have to outwit her overprotective grandparents when it comes to her investigating.
The mystery in Poppy Redfern and the Midnight Murders although good, isn't all that strong. It was very easy for me to deduce the killer's identity, for instance. No, this first book in a series is more about setting the stage and having readers get a feel for the time period and to become acquainted with the characters, and in this, it succeeds. So much so that I'm definitely looking forward to the next book in the series.
Poppy Redfern and the Midnight Murders by Tessa Arlen
Berkley Prime Crime © 2019
eBook, 320 pages
Historical Mystery, #1 Woman of World War II mystery
Source: Net Galley