Charming and feisty Poppy Redfern stumbles into murder in this exciting new World War II historical mystery series from critically acclaimed author Tessa Arlen.
Summer 1942. The world has been at war for three long and desperate years. In the remote English village of Little Buffenden, Poppy Redfern’s family house and farmland has been requisitioned by the War Office as a new airfield for the American Air Force. As the village's Air Raid Warden, Poppy spends her nights patrolling the village as she tries to ease her neighbors’ fears about the “Friendly Invasion” and what it means to their quiet way of life.
When two young, popular women who were dating American servicemen are found strangled, Poppy quickly realizes that her little town has been divided by murder. The mistrust and suspicion of their new American partners in war threatens to tear Little Buffenden apart. Poppy decides to start her own investigation with the help of a charismatic American pilot and she soon unearths some chilling secrets and long-held grudges. Poppy will have no choice but to lay a trap for a killer so perilously close to home, she might very well become the next victim....
Poppy Redfern, the narrator of this unremarkable series launch from Arlen (the Lady Montfort books) set in WWII England, leaves London, where she has trained as an air raid warden, for the town where she grew up, Little Buffenden, to serve as its first air raid warden. Her return coincides with the arrival of American fighter pilots and a series of strangulation murders of attractive young women, starting with Doreen Newcombe. Newcombe was garroted with a pair of nylon stockings her American boyfriend had given her, making him the obvious suspect. Poppy, who isn't so sure of his guilt, begins to play detective. Meanwhile, Poppy develops an American love interest of her own, Lt. Griff O'Neal, "the most handsome man I had ever seen in my life." Like Charles Todd's shell-shocked WWI veteran, Ian Rutledge, Poppy converses, if at a lighthearted level, with someone who isn't real the feisty heroine of the mystery novel she's writing. Cozy readers will best appreciate this one. Fans of British home front mysteries will find nothing new.
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A Woman of WWII Mystery
Poppy Redfern and the Midnight Murders by Tessa Arlen is the first A Woman of WWII Mystery. Poppy Redfern is a spunky woman who has become the Air Raid Warden for Little Buffenden, England. She spends her daytime hours working on a novel featuring her heroine, Ilona Linthwaite and her evening patrolling the village. But then someone begins killing off the young women in the town who are dating American soldiers. Poppy believes the wrong man was arrested for the crime and so does Lt. Griff O’Neal. The two work together to get to the truth. I thought Poppy was a great character with her red hair and zest for life. I appreciated that she had a unique position as Air Raid Warden. She is more progressive than the grandparents who raised her and she currently lives with in their small village. I wish the author had taken the time to establish the other characters. I would have liked more on Griff and Poppy’s grandparents. We are introduced to a number of villagers and I found it difficult to keep them straight. The author captured the time period with rationing, homes requisitioned, lack of men, air raids, planes flying overhead, Anderson shelters and bombs dropping out of the sky. I felt like I was transported back in time with the author’s descriptive writing. I did find the pacing to be on the slow side. I wish it had a little more pep. The mystery had some good components. There are two dead women, unique murder weapons, misdirection, and a unique takedown scene. Unfortunately, the guilty party stood out like a beacon on a dark night. I would have liked a complete wrap up instead of part truth and part supposition. I also felt the book needed more action and less of Poppy thinking (about her book, the town, Griff, the case). Little Buffenden is a typical small town. Poppy has known the residents her whole life. They like to offer advice plus pump her for information. Gossip spreads rapidly in this quaint hamlet. This is a good start to a new historical mystery series. The ending gives us a glimpse of what Poppy will be up to in the next book. Poppy Redfern and the Midnight Murders is an appealing new historical cozy mystery with bomb blasts, good natured gossips, ration regulations, a hijacked house and a conniving killer.