Winter's Revenge is the second full length Guy Winter mystery. It is set in England in the Second World War at the time of the Battle of Britain and the beginning of the devastating night Blitz of London in September 1940.
London reels under the onset of the Blitz as every night hundreds of Luftwaffe bombers unload their cargoes of death over the beleaguered city.
On the ground as the new brutal realities of the war are brought home to every citizen, the Ripper continues his rampage and the last secrets of Guy Winter's life are stripped away. As the bombs fall the mystery man unravels one mystery after another, knowing that sooner rather than later he must confront his deadliest foe.
This time it is not just Guy Winter's life and loyalties that are under the microscope. Under the Luftwaffe's reign of terror the past mistakes of friends and enemies alike suddenly come home to roost, but Guy Winter never stops hunting his man.
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"Still, that was what censorship was for, what?"
I have not read the print version but do believe this would have been more enjoyable had I read rather than listened to this book.
This book is a strange mix of components: the obsession of inspector Guy Wordsworth Winter to track down a serial killer whose crimes seem to emulate the horrendous Jack the Ripper murders from the previous century, one current victim possibly being the policeman's own wife; the graphic recounting of the Ripper's own trail of terror in the past; the ongoing social situation of a London population under attack from German air bombardment; and the attitudes and lifestyles of the upper echelons of that same society. A mystery thriller set in the past, itself investigation in parts a decades old crime.
Does it work? Well, the style of writing is certainly closer to that of the 1930s than present day and the somewhat clipped narration of Melanie Fraser further suggests that period, sounding closer to a period B.B.C. reporting than a present day reading. The phraseology used is also often in character for books of the time. Recounting of the chaos caused by intensive bomb destruction also adds colour and verisimilitude to the story.
However, Winter is no Sherlock Holmes as is suggested by the pressor blurb, but rather a withdrawn, near broken man, who bumbles his way to solutions rather than adding there by insightful assessment of the facts. And the whole investigation is further muddied by the schemes and prejudices of the secret service and parts of government at the time, up to and including the Prime Minister, Winston Churchill. It is because of the vagaries of a large cast of players and the constant references to the life of spies and returns to the original Ripper case that I would have preferred to read rather than listen to this book. Greater clarity.
Whilst Ms.Fraser"s narration was good, clear and added to the atmosphere of the time in which the story is set, the real mystery for me remains the choice of a female narrator for a book primarily set in a male dominated world of War crisis, where almost all of the main protagonists are male and the dialogue, which constitutes much of the writing, is, consequently, between men. She does a stalwart job and I especially commend her voicing of the very recognisable Winston Churchill. But there are several excellent British male narrators who are capable of endowing the same period feeling whilst bringing additional gravitas to the background story. It would have been less distracting and given a more realistic feeling to the book overall.
With numerous characters pursuing their own agendas and a constant, sometimes repititious reviewing of autopsy reports and such like from the original Ripper murders in all of their gruesome detail, I found this not a straightforward listen but somewhat confusing at times. This said, it was an enjoyable book and my thanks to the rights holder who gifted me a copy via Audiobook Boom. If for no other reason, this is worth hearing to recapture some of the, thankfully now forgotten, attitudes of the British upper classes at the commencement of World War Two.
- Norma Miles