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Blackstone and the Great War - Sally Spencer

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Hardcover: 192 pages / Publisher: Severn House Publishers Ltd / Published: 24 Nov 2011

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      09.06.2013 11:29
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      Nothing to write home about

      ==Synopsis of the book:==

      The Great War is in full swing when Inspector Sam Blackstone is asked to visit retired General Fortesque. As he owes this man a debt he feels compelled to help but it alarmed to discover this famous war hero wants him to investigate the death of his Grandson. Under normal circumstances a challenge like this Blackstone would enjoy, but Lieutenant Fortesque was murdered on the Western Front very close to enemy lines in France.

      On arrival at the camp he is introduced to Captain Carstairs and a few of his Officers. They make it very clear that they do not welcome him interfering in this matter and Blackstone quickly feels isolated and out of his depth. With Officers who think Blackstone is too low in rank in society to even talk to them while the enlisted men are afraid to talk to him. Can Blackstone find the truth as to what happened to this popular Lieutenant in the trenches without putting himself in danger of the same fate?

      ==My thoughts on the novel:==

      I found this an enjoyable and interesting crime mystery. On the one hand I did not think the murder of this military man was not that fascinating. But because of the way the story was written and I felt I learnt a lot about what it was like in the trenches in the First World War it was a worthy read. For me what it really demonstrated was how in the early 1900's the class system was very important and it meant the average soldier could not directly deal with a Officer.

      This is not the first historical investigation I have read in the series featuring Inspector Sam Blackstone. I enjoyed that as I did this but I still prefer the other series Sally Spencer has written featuring Chief Inspector Charlie Woodend and DCI Monika Paniatowski. I think the main reason for this is I feel I can relate better yo life in the late sixties and early seventies rather than around the turn of the century.

      I bought this book based on my very positive experiences with Sally Spencer's work and while I have not taken to Inspector Blackstone in quite the same way I have to Chief Inspector Woodend I still looked forward to a good read. Added to this I always like to learn more about the Great War and that is exactly what this story promised even in its title. Plus on the front cover of the book was a picture of several men taking cover in a trench and this all seemed like something I would enjoy.

      This was reinforced when I finally found the summary on the inside cover. Initially I had expected to find it on the reverse of the book. However the only thing I found there was general praise for other books in this series that I have already read. So this was no use to me!! The summary of this story I did find useful and interesting. It was a good three paragraphs long and it set the scene to the investigation really well, it had me wanting to read the story at my first available opportunity.

      As soon as I started reading the story I felt involved in it. There was no preamble it was straight into the story. With Blackstone's visit to the retired Generals. For me this author has an amazing ability to draw the reader in to her stories from the very first page with her relaxed but always interesting themes. And while this is a period of history I do not know much about I felt guided by the writer in such a way I felt I was back there with Blackstone investigating this crime.

      The story had plenty of depth and interesting characters within it and it was the type of mystery I did not know what would happen next within it. Yes if I am critical it would have been nicer to have more suspects but the story was written in an intelligent way so that you did not know the solution until it was spelt out for you. Had there been a few more suspects then I think the mystery would have increased as it all seemed a little obvious the mystery was why the man was killed.

      However despite the lack of suspects the story still had a few clever twists and turns within it. I felt I learnt a lot about not only how desperate life was like on the front line but some of the politics of war . I found this very interesting and it demonstrated to me how society has changed. The story had a very good pace about it and I found the final few chapter well thought out and provided a satisfactory ending to the story. Yes more action and excitement would have been good but you cannot always have that and this was a well thought out conclusion.

      What did stand out in this story was the lead character Inspector Sam Blackstone. He is a wonderful personality and maybe because of his very humble origins he treats everyone he meets with politeness and respect. I like the way he went about the investigation and the way he found it much easier getting support from the average Soldier than the more senior ranks who did not want to help him at all. I admired his honesty and the way he wanted to clear up all the loose end in the investigation.

      The story was a bit shorter to many of the murder mysteries I have read lately. But that said I felt the length of this story was exactly right to match this investigation. And while other mysteries may be longer this one still had enough depth within it to challenge the reader and make it an enjoyable read. I particularly liked being reminded how desperate life was for those on the front and how little value was attached to the lives of the enlisted men.

      For me this is probably the weakest story by Sally Spencer I have read. All the previous one have been more complex and more possible suspects for the murder. That is what let this one down and while I still liked this one it had in my opinion anyway an awful lot to live up to and sadly it was not quite the same quality. Added to this when I came to write this review I could not find it available in paperback version, so if you plan to but the traditional book format it will be expensive, so the Kindle option may be better.

      ==Conclusion:==

      Overall I would just about recommend this as a good piece of crime fiction. On the positive side I enjoyed going back to the Great War and learning what life was like for the men in the trenches. Added to which I enjoyed the excellent Detective Inspector Blackstone and how he goes about solving the mystery. The story for me needed more suspects, which would have created more twists within it and added to the suspense within the story.

      ==Other Information:==

      Hardback version:
      Pages: 201
      Price: 13.99
      Publisher: Severn House
      ISBN-13: 978-072788123
      More about the author: www.sallyspencer.com
      Year first published: 2012
      Kindle Edition: 7.43

      Thanks for reading my review.

      This review is published on both Ciao and Dooyoo under my user name.

      © CPTDANIELS June 2013

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