This post was intended as a private note but I thought it may be of interest to regular or sporadic readers of this blog
(Information taken from Wikipedia)
The novels in the Frederick Troy series share the eponymous protagonist Frederick (he doesn’t like any form of his given name, preferring to be addressed by his surname) Troy, the younger son of a Russian immigrant father who’s become a wealthy newspaper publisher and baronet. Defying class and family expectations, the independently wealthy Troy joins Scotland Yard, becoming an investigator on the “murder squad”.
The series, in published order:
- Black Out (1995). The story begins during the last stages of the London Blitz in 1944. Troy is assigned to find out who’s murdering German scientists who’ve been secretly smuggled out of Germany and into Britain. Later, Troy tracks his suspect to Berlin in 1948, during the Berlin Blockade. Along the way, he tangles with British and American spy agencies, a Russian spy and a British femme fatale.
- Old Flames (1996). Troy, because he speaks Russian, is assigned to guard Russian Secretary-General Nikita Khrushchev, during his 1956 visit to Britain. Along with these duties, Troy investigates the death of an ex-navy diver during a curiously botched spy mission.
- A Little White Death (1998). The third Troy novel uses the historical events of the Profumo Affair and the Kim Philby spy scandal of the early 1960s as a jumping-off point for a fictionalised version in which Troy, now risen to Commander in Scotland Yard, discovers that an apparent suicide (of the fictional Stephen Ward-analog character) was really a murder. A second apparent suicide thickens the plot. Most of the historical characters get fictional equivalents, a few appear as themselves, and Christine Keeler becomes a pair of sisters. In the closing Historical Note, however, Lawton explains his historical inspirations and cautions that “This is not a roman à clef.” Concurrent with the scandal/spy/murder plot, Lawton interleaves some cultural history on the beginnings of ‘swinging London’. The novel’s title is a double entendre, referring both to the pills used in the second suspicious suicide and to Troy’s life-and-career-threatening battle against tuberculosis.
- Riptide (2001). (Published in the United States (2004) as Bluffing Mr. Churchill). Lawton backtracks chronologically to the early days of World War II, before Black Out.
- Blue Rondo (2005). (Published in the United States as Flesh Wounds). This book opens at almost exactly the same point as Black Out, and then skips ten years beyond the end of Black Out to pick up the lives of characters who are only children in the first novel. In 1959 two of them have grown up to be East End gangsters trying to move into the West End, and one has become a policeman working with Frederick Troy. There are some similarities to the historical story of the three Kray brothers, but Blue Rondo is set in a very different era and the author has, on occasion, warned against making too much of such analogy.
- Second Violin (2007). Another “prequel” to Black Out, this time back to 1938. The main protagonist this time is Frederick Troy’s older brother Rod, working as a reporter for his father’s newspaper. Rod travels to Vienna, just in time to witness Kristallnacht. Returning to Britain, he is sent to an internment camp on the Isle of Man because of his Austrian birth and failure to pursue naturalisation. During the Battle of Britain, he is freed to become a fighter pilot. Meanwhile, brother Fred investigates the murders of several East End rabbis. The parallel stories eventually converge at the final denouement.
- A Lily of the Field (2010). This novel tells two linked stories, differing in tone and structure, but heading to the same conclusion. The first part, “Audacity”, is set in the years 1934–46 in Europe, and has only the briefest mention of Frederick Troy. It is, essentially, the back-story to all that follows. The second part, “Austerity”, set in London in 1948, is a more familiar Inspector Troy murder investigation, that, almost inevitably, spills over into Cold War espionage.
There is also an interesting entry at Detectives Beyond Borders by Peter Rozovsky : John Lawton on being a “crime” writer.
Norman at Crime Scraps has reviewed all the books in the series.
I have downloaded Black Out to my Kindle. Thanks for your warning, Rhian. Black Out is the start of an addictive series, so be prepared.