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An Empty Death

por Laura Wilson

Series: DI Stratton (2)

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1034207,579 (3.86)16
War-weary Detective Inspector Ted Stratton investigates the suspicious death of a doctor only to realize that someone in the victim's hospital is committing murders while assuming someone else's identity.
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An extremely poor decision on the part of the antagonist combines with multiple and separate instances of shoddy basic human resources work to put a real damper on an otherwise good read. Wilson once again does a solid job of evoking the time and place of London blitzed during WWII and provides an interesting and--for the most part--likable cast of characters. And while the story does require a high level of suspension of disbelief on the above points, it otherwise does a nice job in terms of development. In particular, Wilson gets points for not taking the easy and obvious course with regard to how she ultimately resolves things. While a sequel to THE INNOCENT SPY, it comes very close to being a standalone, as the two share little more than some characters and their roles. As such, a reader can easily enjoy the second (albeit weaker) outing without having read the first. A good read in spite of not being quite as good as its predecessor, and recommended for fans of the genre--as long as they accept a bit of eye-rolling with regard to some plot points as things move along. ( )
  jimgysin | Jun 19, 2017 |
Stratton is called upon to investigate the case of a dead doctor, found in suspicious circumstances on a bomb-site near Fitzrovia's Middlesex Hospital. Was it an affair that turned fatally sour, revenge for a fatal case of misdiagnosis, or, despite appearances, simply an unfortunate accident? Or, as Stratton begins to suspect, is there someone at the hospital who is not what he appears to be and will go to any lengths to protect his fake persona? Ted's wife, Jenny, working at the local Rest Centre, battles on valiantly although her spirit of make-do is wearing as thin as her clothing and she desperately misses her children, who are still evacuees in Suffolk.

My Thoughts:

This is the second in a series of books with DCI Stratton. I don’t think that it is important to have read the first one but as the characters are developing I think that it does help.

What I like about Stratton is that unlike some detectives he is a family man. He likes a drink down the local pub, and will look at ladies legs but he is for his family.

Laura Wilson can throw out a good tale. There is plenty going on and just when the reader thinks it is all sorted some spanner is thrown in the works. There was one particular incident in this book that I didn’t see coming and I was sorry to read.

I have enjoyed both this book and the previous one ‘Stratton’s War’ and will read the others. Diana Calthrop didn’t appear in this book but can see that she does appear in the next installment so the reader will no doubt catch up with her.

A very gripping read with plenty of thrills. Laura Wilson is a favourite author of mine and I would highly recommend her books. ( )
  tina1969 | Mar 16, 2014 |
Loved the evocation of time and place - compliments the plot perfectly. Wilson always seems to get it spot on. ( )
  Ant.Harrison | Apr 28, 2013 |
The sudden death of a hospital doctor offers a wonderful opportunity for a man known as Sam Todd to reinvent himself as Dr James Dacre and apply for the dead man’s job. This is London in June 1944, nearly 5 years into World War II, and many of his new colleagues at the short-staffed Middlesex Hospital are very happy to take him at face value, including an attractive nurse called Fay. His new life is far too promising to allow anyone to get in the way.

At first, when DI Ted Stratton comes to have a look at a suspicious dead body on a bombsite, the possibility of a murder case looks like it might be a welcome change from following reports of stolen petrol coupons.

This historical crime story starts quite slowly as Dacre builds up his new identity, and Stratton deals with the frustrations and bureaucracy of day to day police work and what does turn out to be a murder investigation. It is the second novel to feature DI Stratton, following on from Stratton’s War, but there is no need to have read the earlier book – Laura Wilson’s six previous crime novels were all standalones and this story works very well on its own terms.

The complex and compelling story is told from three viewpoints – those of Todd/Dacre, DI Stratton and his wife Jenny. Todd/Dacre is a brilliantly drawn antihero. He has done a lot of terrible things in the past and present, and is evidently prepared to kill to prevent someone spoiling things for him now. However, just as there are times when he feels sympathy and warmer human feelings towards people although they may threaten his existence, he is not all evil and I found there were times when I had sympathy with him – I was torn between wanting him to be caught and almost wishing he could succeed (though preferably without too much bloodshed).

Stratton’s home life and his wife Jenny are not just shown to give him background – they turn out to be integral to the plot. Early in the novel Todd follows Stratton all the way home to Tottenham – I really liked the fact that they lived in my own unglamorous neighbourhood as most fictional London detectives live in improbably expensive and central parts of London like Islington and Notting Hill.

Through her voluntary work in a local Rest Centre, Jenny ends up reluctantly taking in a woman who will not go back home, who apparently misses her husband but is terrified when that man turns up to collect her. Stratton understandably resents the intrusion of this woman on his home life.

There is a lot of detail evoking the feel of wartime London, the day to day frustrations and problems, the type of housing, how everything looked at the time. I found the story really compelling and the detail just added to the atmosphere for me. It also gave me a sense of being taken back into another historical era, both in terms of practical issues about how people lived at that time and in the attitudes and thoughts of the 1940s.

At the same time, the strong storyline and characters I really cared about kept me turning the pages (over 400 of them).

Recommended. ( )
2 vota elkiedee | Feb 12, 2010 |
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'A man's alter ego is nothing more than his favourite image of himself.'
Frank W. Abagnale, Catch Me If You Can

'The version of ourselves we present to the world bears no resemblance to the truth. There isn't one of us who could afford to be caught. That's all life is. Trying not to be found out.'
Willie Donaldson's Diary
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basset hound and beloved friend,
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June 1944, Fitzrovia: the night was bright - a bombers' moon - but the planes were far away.
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War-weary Detective Inspector Ted Stratton investigates the suspicious death of a doctor only to realize that someone in the victim's hospital is committing murders while assuming someone else's identity.

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