Where to begin? Dead in the Water is a story of 1942 WW2. London with ramifications beyond. London has been bombed to a shell of itself with Anglo-Spanish DCI Frank Merlin continuing to his mission to protect the city from not only the criminal element within but any such characters that wander in from outside the nations borders.
A body found floating in the Thames. Missing art. Stolen or otherwise. Who’s to know? That’s Merlin’s job.
There are many layers to what Ellis has done here. You have the married couple of Frank Merlin and his wife with their young son. You have families that have sought refuge in London from Poland and Germany.
There are deserters from armies, gangsters willing to take advantage of any situation.
And all of that’s just the obvious on the surface elements.
Of course you then have the spies. Who all do they work for? Where do they come from?
You read reviews about how a writer weaves the different stories in a book into one overall story. That’s not one of my favorite ways of describing a book but in this case… unless I use a thesaurus, weaving is what Ellis has done.
The seemingly separate story lines, some are separate, obviously, but many will at some point link together as you might expect in a mystery like this. If not, then all those sub plots would be useless. But here, pay attention and you start to piece things together.
There are surprises to be experienced, not just by the reader but by the characters as well. A bit of Agatha Christie if you will.
As for the setting for the book. WW2 history is my specialty. It’s what I primarily studied and taught. There is a lot to learn from what Ellis gives us in Dead in the Water that you won’t necessarily learn in a classroom. You don’t get what life was like on a daily basis in London during this time. You don’t consider that life goes on, crimes happen, police have a job to do. Love happens, betrayal, affairs. Anything and everything. And you don’t consider that during wartime on an island nation like Britain that some would take advantage of their fellow suffering citizens.
Dead in the Water is not only entertaining and good paced read, it’s also a learning experience.
I give it a 4 out of 5.
About the Author:
Mark Ellis is a thriller writer from Swansea and a former barrister and entrepreneur.
He is the creator of DCI Frank Merlin, an Anglo-Spanish police detective operating in World War 2 London. His books treat the reader to a vivid portrait of London during the war skilfully blended with gripping plots, political intrigue and a charismatic protagonist.
Mark grew up under the shadow of his parents’ experience of the Second World War. His father served in the wartime navy and died a young man. His mother told him stories of watching the heavy bombardment of Swansea from the safe vantage point of a hill in Llanelli, and of attending tea dances in wartime London under the bombs and doodlebugs.
In consequence Mark has always been fascinated by WW2 and in particular the Home Front and the fact that while the nation was engaged in a heroic endeavour, crime flourished. Murder, robbery, theft and rape were rife and the Blitz provided scope for widespread looting.
This was an intriguing, harsh and cruel world. This is the world of DCI Frank Merlin.
Mark Ellis’ books regularly appear in the Kindle bestseller charts.
He is published by Headline Accent, an imprint of Headline.
He is a member of Crime Cymru, the Welsh crime writing collective, and of the Crime Writers Association (CWA).