Thursday, January 26, 2012
A Gathering of Saints
By Christopher Hyde
London, 1940, the Blitz: German planes swooping in at night to drop their bombs on London and other targets in Britain. In the midst of the chaos and destruction, a sick mind takes advantage and kills, thinking perhaps one more body will not be noticed by the authorities. But the police do notice, and as the killer stikes again, it becomes apparent that he has advance knowledge of when and where the Germans will be striking. Who he is and how he is getting his information is not just a matter for the police: now it is a vital concern of national security!
Detective Morris Black is assigned to the investigation at the beginning. But before long, the British Secret Service has co-opted the investigation and Morris Black too. He will be privy to secrets that very few are allowed to know, including the secret of Ultra, the ingenious decoder that lets the British decipher all of Germany's secret communications. And yet somehow a madman has gained access to Ultra and is using it to plan his murders. And to complicate things further, a German agent has also gotten wind of the killer and is on his own mission to discover how "Queer Jack" knows in advance about Germany's bombing runs.
This was an extremely exciting and interesting murder mystery, set in perilous times with Detective Morris Black trying to conduct his investigation with the bombs literally falling around him. And the story also includes some very interesting history of that time, including how close English sympathizers in the government and with close ties to the government came to making a secret deal with Hitler to pretty much turn the country over to the enemy!
But one thing I did have against the story was its ending, which was more than a little disappointing. Bit of a spoiler here: but I always like a happy ending and this book doesn't really have one. However, despite the ending, overall I really enjoyed reading this taut and engaging mystery.