1944 (1926) by the Earl of Halsbury

The Earl of Halsbury’s novel, 1944 (published in 1926) is a very readable example of the ‘Future War’ genre’. Before 1914, these had mostly been grim warnings about possible German invasions. After 1918,  the books still proliferated, though with a change of emphasis. My favourites are the ones where Bolshevik Russia, in league with English … Continue reading

Sunset over Soho by Gladys Mitchell (1943)

This novel – one of the Mrs Bradley mystery series for which its author is chiefly known – centres around the strange discovery of the body of an old man in a makeshift coffin following a London air raid. The opening of the novel finds the inscrutable sleuth-psychologist (her day job is working as psychiatric … Continue reading

Robert Peckham (1930) by Maurice Baring

Book review by Sylvia D: Maurice Baring OBE (1874-1945) was the eighth child and fifth son, of Edward Charles Baring, first Baron Revelstoke, of the Baring banking family. His published works date from 1903 and include drama, poetry, translations, essays and novels. Robert Peckham which was first published by Heinemann in 1930 is a fictional … Continue reading

Lords and Masters (1936) by A.G. Macdonell

Book Review by George S.: A. G. Macdonell is best known for his comic novel, England, Their England. Lords and Masters is a comic novel, too, but the humour is much blacker, tinged by despair at the international situation during the 1930s. The novel centres on a wealthy Kensington family. James Hanson is a self-made … Continue reading

Holdfast by A. G. Street (1946)

Shedding a relatively rare light on the plight of rural England in time of war, this novel by A. G. Street (author of the better-known Farmer’s Glory (1932)) concentrates on the story of a single farm in the south west of England. It centres on the character of Phoebe Carpenter, a young farmer’s wife who … Continue reading

The English Air by D. E. Stevenson (1940)

This novel by Edinburgh-born writer D. E. Stevenson (her father’s cousin was Robert Louis Stevenson) centres upon the story of Franz (‘Frank’) Von Heiden, the son of a Nazi official and an English woman, and is set in the run-up to, and early days of the Second World War. Ostensibly in England on a private … Continue reading

Death at the President’s Lodging (1936) by Michael Innes

Book Review by Sylvia D: Michael Innes’s Death at the President’s Lodging (1936) was the first of many novels and short stories featuring detective, John Appleby, eventually Sir John Appleby, Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police. Writers often give their detectives a particular hobby; P D James’s Adam Dalgleish writes poetry, Susan Hill’s Simon Serailler is … Continue reading

The Body in the Silo by Ronald Knox (1933)

As well as formulating the Ten Commandments of Detective Fiction or Decalogue, the Catholic priest and theologian Ronald Knox wrote six detective stories of which this is the fourth. All but the first feature Miles Bredon, an investigator for the Indescribable Insurance Company. The novel opens with Miles and his wife Angela discussing an invitation … Continue reading

Case with 4 Clowns (1939) by Leo Bruce

Book review by George S: Case with 4 Clowns (1939) is the fourth of Leo Bruce’s Sergeant Beef novels, and it’s not the one to start with, since in it Leo Bruce gives away several spoilers about the outcomes of previous books in the series. He could be careless about that sort of thing – … Continue reading

Those Who Remain by Eileen Tremayne (1942)

Shuttling between London and the secluded village of ‘Eldbury’ in the early part of the Second World War, this novel concerns the plight of a single family as they retreat to the relative safety of the countryside, while outside events develop and gradually begin to impinge on their lives. References to the previous war, together … Continue reading