this is the 246th in my series of forgotten or seldom read books
The London Blitz Murders by Max Allan Collins, Berkley Prime Crime, 2004 paperback, mystery in historical setting
The events in this book take place in February 1942, during a lull in the devastating blitz and is a fictionalized account of the “Blackout Ripper” case. As is typical of Collin’s books, there are historical figures doing the detecting, in this case Detective Chief Inspector Edward “Ted” Greeno of the CID and pathologist Sir Bernard Spilsbury. Added to the cast is Agatha Christie Mallowan, who in fact did work in the dispensary at University College Hospital in London, Spilsbury’s medical base of operations.
Collins has attempted to write a Christie-style story about a true crime serial killer, and has done a surprisingly good job of it. The story is nicely told, the characters interact believably, and, though there is little doubt about who is committing the crimes, we see the crime-solving process, with Christie Mallowan participating and adding her intuition to what is otherwise a typical police investigation. A light, enjoyable book.
An event in the book is the theatrical opening of Christie’s Ten Little Indians including comments on her writing a different ending for the play from the book. It was enough to prompt me to take out my copy of The Mousetrap and Other Plays and re-read the play, having recently watched the film version And Then There Were None [the 1945 version, produced by Popular Pictures, released by 2oth Century Fox, premiered October 31, 1945, starring Barry Fitzgerald, Walter Huston, June Duprez, Louis Hayward, Ronald Young, Judith Anderson, produced by Rebe Clair. It’s my favorite version.
I really enjoyed the books in this series that I have picked up but don’t have this one yet – thanks Richard.
You are, of course, very welcome.
I enjoyed all of MACs “Disaster” series, Richard. Well researched details, crisp writing, and a new angle on events are a hallmark of all his historical mysteries. Have you read any others in the series?
I’ve read several, but not all of the books, Jerry.
I enjoyed the latest film version of And Then There Were None. Good cast and good production.
I’m fond of the older B&W version, don’t have the year on it though.
I like that one as well. I’ve seen the play Ten Little Indians a couple of times and enjoy that too. I think I’ve also read the play once.
Carl, I added the specifics of the film I watched. You can stream it from Amazon if you have Prime.
Good one. I keep meaning to pick up the books in this series but – also – I keep forgetting. I’ve always found the blitz fascinating, and have read novels by people like Connie Willis and others about it.
As mentioned on George’s blog last week, AND THEN THERE WERE NONE was the first Christie I ever read (about 50 years ago!) and I’ve reread it, seen several (increasingly bad) movie versions, and even seen a theatrical revival of it in London in 2005, I believe Richard Johnson starred in it.
I saw that comment, Jeff, and noted the 50 years ago part. Were getting old, I guess.
Did you see I added the specifics of the film version I like?
I see my library has ebook copies of two in this series – this one and the Lusitania. As soon as I read the books I already have on there I will try this.
At the St Louis Bouchercon a couple of years ago I talked with Collins about this series in which real mystery writers solve crimes that take place just before a disastrous historical event. LONDON BLITZ he told me was his favorite of the lot. I read this one and the TITANIC one with Jacques Futrelle and his wife May as the detectives. LONDON BLITZ is much better. I’ve got copies of three others in the series (Leslie Charteris, H.G. Wells and one other…S.S. Van Dine on the Lusitania?…I think.) but haven’t read them. The S.S. Van Dine story is the one I’m most interested in reading…one of these days.
I haven’t read the Lusitania one, John, I’ll have to get a copy.
There were six books in the series altogether, Richard. Not mentioned yet is THE PEARL HARBOR MURDERS, which features Edgar Rice Burroughs and the real-life detective Earl Derr Biggers based the Charlie Chan character on.
I haven’t read any of these, Richard, though I’ve heard of this author over the years. I’ve just finished reading LIFE AFTER LIFE by Kate Atkinson, much of which takes place during the Blitz, so I am receptive. I’ll have to take a look and see what my library has. Thanks for the intro.
You’re welcome, Yvette, I think you’ll enjoy this one.
I admire Max Allan Collins’s incredible productivity and his love of history. I’ve read several of the books in this series and enjoyed them all.
I’m sure you’ll be able to read the rest in that great retirement time that’s just around the bend!
I think I’ve read them all and agree that they’re fun and interesting at the same time. Informative, too. For example, I didn’t know ERB was in Hawaii when the Rat Japanazis bombed Pearl Harbor.
I didn’t know he was in Hawaii either, Bob. I have couple more of these to read, and plan to do so.
Only read Collins’ King Kong book so far.
Charles, these are worth a look by you, I think you’d enjoy them.
I am glad you reviewed this. I have been interested in this series and this gives me a push towards reading it. It is about time I read something by Max Allan Collins.
I also enjoyed the comments on Ten Little Indians and the your favorite film version. I have yet to try any of those either. Or I am so old I don’t remember if I watched or read them in my younger years.
That is the best of the film versions I’ve seen as well, though I’m fond of the derivative film APRIL FOOL’S DAY. Have you caught any of Collins’s new tv series QUARRY yet?
No, I haven’t. They would be a “maybe” for me.
Richard, I want to read some of Max Allan Collins’ fiction except I don’t know where to begin. He has been very prolific.