Updated: Mar 25, 2020
Fiction can be more deadly to received wisdoms than documentary evidence.
A Death in Mayfair makes the point as it opens. Armed officers face armed lawbreakers. Both are ready to use lethal force.
So? Where’s the surprise? Well, it’s that we’re in 1941, in a London lately blitzed, when this Sceptr’d Isle is meant to be in harmony and concentrated on defending itself from existential threat. Dream on. Mr. Ellis comprehensively explodes that persisting myth of unalloyed wartime togetherness. The rackets here are ever-present and making hay, exploiting whatever opportunity mayhem affords.
Read this as a well-worked DCI Merlin murder mystery to enjoy and unravel. But also as an eye-opener. In this war-torn London under siege, murder never had it so good.