Saturday 17 August 2019

The Dead On Leave by Chris Nickson

The Dead on Leave: A 1930s British whodunitThe Dead on Leave: A 1930s British whodunit by Chris Nickson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Time taken to read - 1 day

Pages -

Publisher - Endeavour Quill

Source - Review Copy

Blurb from Goodreads

Leeds, Autumn 1936.

During a British Union of Fascists rally, a body is found.

War veteran Detective Sergeant Urban Raven is tasked with finding the killer.

But with virtually no clues, no witnesses and no obvious motive, he has few leads to start the investigation.

Leeds has become a shadow of its former self. Once a bright, vibrant and progressive metropolis, it has all but ground to a halt since the Crash of ’29, the Depression and the ensuing descent into unemployment and poverty.

And there are political stirrings as the BUF vie with the Communist Party for public support.

Was the murder an act of vengeance?

Was the victim killed for his political beliefs?

Or was the killing part of a more sinister plan, a grisly smear campaign? And if so, which side, if either, is responsible?

Raven and his colleagues find themselves constantly hindered by red tape, politics and the press. But sometimes, if you want a result, you just have to do it your way…

This puzzler of a crime story comprises convincing characters, a clever plot and a window into the dark days of 1930s northern England, where so many had lost hope…

…the dead. On leave.

My Review

It is Leeds, 1936, money is tight, poverty is rife and the Nazi's are spreading their hate. The BUF (British Union of Fascists) numbers are rising, political unrest is evident and there is a rally for the visiting Oswald Mosley. Detective Sergeant Urban Raven and some extra police are expect to deal with the numbers and fall out. They knew there would be trouble but no one was expecting murder! When a body is found Raven and the team have to investigate and go on what little is available to the police for that time period.

I don't often read books that feature any kind of politics, it isn't really my thing if I am honest. However I did get into this book pretty quickly, I had to google some of the stuff because yes it is a fiction book but it does mention things that happened or where true for that time period and I do love a book where you learn some history. I had never heard of BUF nor of Oswald Mosley, that was an eye opener and strange I hadn't heard his name, I defo need to read up on history!

Urban is a good guy, scarred from his first time around in the war he can use it to his advantage when policing but faces stares/judgement when not in uniform. As well as the murder and relying on police work the old way (before masses of technology) we see his struggles in his personal life. I think a good author makes this work as it doesn't detract from the main bulk of the story (murder/investigation) but allows the reader to get a feel for the human aspect behind the cop.

Whilst it isn't a blood/guts and gore type book the murder happens quickly and the rest is the investigation centered around it. The writing keeps you engaged and interesting in where the story is going next.

Not sure if this is a series but I would absolutely like to read more on Urban and the characters featured in this book. Whilst this was my first dance with this author it won't be my last, I like the shape of the characters, the pace and how he tackled an investigation as it would have been back in the 30's when cars weren't as common as clothing. 4/5 for me this time and I look forward to more adventures with Urban!

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