Review: Black Out by John Lawton

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Kindle Edition. File Size: 734 KB. Print Length: 352 pages. Grove Press (1 May 2012). ASIN: B006G0VGO2.

Publisher’s Blurb: London, 1944. While the Luftwaffe makes its final assault on the already battered British capital, Londoners rush through the streets, seeking underground shelter in the midst of the city’s black out. When the panic subsides, other things begin to surface along with London’s war-worn citizens. A severed arm is discovered by a group of children playing at an East End bomb site, and when Scotland Yard’s Detective Sergeant Frederick Troy arrives at the scene, it becomes apparent that the dismembered body is not the work of a V-1 rocket. After Troy manages to link the severed arm to the disappearance of a refugee scientist from Nazi Germany, America’s newest intelligence agency, the OSS, decides to get involved. The son of a titled Russian émigré, Troy is forced to leave the London he knows and enter a corrupt world of bloody consequences, stateless refugees, and mysterious women as he unearths a chain of secrets leading straight to the Allied high command.

My take: This is John Lawton’s debut novel and the first instalment in Inspector Troy Mystery series. It was first published by Viking in 1995 and now is being reissued by Grove Press. I had heard many good things about this books from bloggers whose opinion I have in high regard, however, my first exposure to this author had leave me a bit disappointed. Moreover it took me longer than usual to finish it as I had to interrupt my reading quite often. I certainly think my expectations were too high. The atmosphere of London during the II WW is effectively recreated and I’ve been always fascinated by the time period in which the action is set. Unfortunately I lost track of the story line several times and, occasionally, I had trouble understanding what was going on. Probably it was all my fault since I had to spend more time than usual checking out words in the dictionary. Characters and situations come and go in a way that is difficult to understand in my view. Some times the narrative flow changes abruptly and it takes time to find out the character’s name and her/his role in the book. Anyway I expect to read the rest of the series and I would have given it a 3.5 if I had used decimals.

My rating: 3/5.

Black Out has been reviewed by Norman at Crime Scraps, Rob at The View from the Blue House, among others.

I would also suggest to read Rhian’s post at It’s a crime! (Or a mystery…) about The Books of John Lawton – The “Troy” series.

Grove/Atlantic Inc.

John Lawton

I’ll count this book for my participation in the 2012 Global Reading Challenge (The Seventh Continent – History).

Black Out (Apagón) de John Lawton

De la editorial: Londres, 1944. Mientras la Luftwaffe hace su asalto final sobre la ya maltratada capital británica, los londinenses corren por las calles, buscando refugio subterráneo en medio de la oscuridad que se extiende por toda la ciudad. Luego, cuando el pánico disminuye, empiezan a aflorar junto a ciudadanos extenuados por la guerra otras cosas. Un grupo de niños juegan en un lugar del East End en donde ha explotado una bomba y se encuentran con un brazo cortado. El detective sargento de Scotland Yard Frederick Troy se desplaza hasta el lugar de los hechos. Pronto resulta evidente que el resto humano no ha sido consecuencia de un misil V-1. Y cuando Troy consigue establecer cierta relación entre ese brazo y la desaparición de un científico refugiado de la Alemania nazi, la nueva agencia de espionaje de Estados Unidos, la OSS, decide involucrarse. Entonces Troy, el hijo de un noble ruso emigrado, se ve obligado a abandonar el Londres que conoce para adentrarse en un mundo corrupto de consecuencias sangrientas, de refugiados apátridas, y de mujeres misteriosas mientras descubre una cadena de secretos que conducen directamente hasta el alto mando Aliado.

Mi opinión: Se trata de la primera novela de John Lawton y es la primera entrega de la serie de misterio protagonizada por el inspector Troy. Fue publicada inicialmente por Viking en 1995 y ahora está siendo reeditada por Grove Press. Yo había oído muchas cosas buenas sobre este libro de blogeros cuya opinión tengo en gran consideración, sin embargo, mi primer contacto con este autor me ha decepcionado un poco. Por otra parte me llevó más tiempo de lo normal terminarlo ya que tuve que interrumpir mi lectura con bastante frecuencia. Ciertamente creo que mis expectativas eran demasiado altas. La atmósfera de Londres durante la Segunda Guerra Mundial está recreada con gran efectividad y siempre me ha fascinado el periodo de tiempo en el que transcurre la acción. Lamentablemente perdía a menudo el hilo de la historia y, en ocasiones, he tenido problemas para entender lo que estaba sucediendo. Probablemente era por mi culpa, ya que he tenido que dedicar más tiempo de lo acostumbrado a mirar palabras en el diccionario. Los personajes y las situaciones aparecen y desaparecen de una manera que resulta difícil de comprender. En ocasiones el flujo narrativo cambia de forma brusca y lleva un tiempo descubrir el nombre del personaje y el papel que desempeña en el libro. De todos modos espero leer el resto de la serie y le hubiera dado un 3.5 si hubiera usado decimales.

Mi calificación: 3/5

12 thoughts on “Review: Black Out by John Lawton”

  1. José Ignacio – I’m sorry that you didn’t like this one more than you did. I’ve had that happen to me too. I hope that as you get more into the series you’ll like it better. Of course, I’m biased… And I have to agree with you that the setting is fascinating.

  2. Nice review, Jose Ignacio. I have to admit I tried this book a year or so ago and did not get very far with it. But I am not that keen on historical fiction, so that might explain it. Hope you enjoy the next one more, if you do go on with the series.

  3. I have this scheduled to read next Jose Ignacio. I have already read A LILY OF THE FIELD and sort of enjoyed that

  4. Sorry to read you didn’t enjoy it as much as you’d hoped, Jose Ignacio. Lawton’s novels do require concentration. I know I couldn’t put down and pick up again as I’d lose track of the characters (I am hopeless remembering names). I think it’s also worth noting that these are novels at the literary end of the spectrum; indeed the first in the series were marketed clearly as pure literary when originally published. I feared the reaction of some when Lily was number one in the Daily Telegraph’s Top 5 Thrillers last year. It would be too easy to connect thriller with James Patterson and the like. And that’s not a Lawton novel.
    I hope you might enjoy another title if you try one, Jose Ignacio.
    I loved Black Out and it’s the one that drew me into the series.

    1. Rhan, You don’t need to feel sorry about that. I think I’ve emphasised that I was interrupted quite often during my reading and my attention was probably somewhere else. Difficult then to concentrate on this particular book. Thanks for taking your time to comment my post. Much appreciate it.

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