I'm pretty sure I've mentioned this before, but World War II is one of my favorite time periods to read about, partly due to the fact that both my grandfathers served in WWII--my mum's dad as a bomber pilot in Europe and my dad's dad as a sailor in the Pacific. It fascinates me. I also love mysteries, and The Dead of Winter brings together both in an extremely satisfying way.
It's winter 1944 and the year is winding down toward Christmas; though the Blitz ended years earlier, London still enforces blackouts at night and the rubble-filled shells of once happy homes still crouch all over the city. A volunteer blackout watchman bumps into a young woman--presumably foreign, due to her accent--hurrying along her way with an air of unease about her. After the watchman returns from a break in a pub from the frigid night, he stumbles across the girl again. Literally. She's been killed, but none of her possessions have been taken. Scotland Yard, at first inclined to dismiss it as a random murder, begins to investigate more closely when the girl's employer, a former policeman retired to the country, steps in to lend a hand and discovers links to jewelry thefts and assassinations on the Continent and at home.
Airth possesses that rare gift of being able to lead the reader along by the nose, guiding both the characters and the audience to what seems the perfect conclusion, only to reveal a particularly important tidbit that turns everything one thought on its head. Numerous twists left me thoroughly engaged in the novel and eager for more!
Highly recommended to fans of whodunits and history buffs alike.