After working for the BBC, then in communication, Mike Hollow became a freelance writer, editor, and creative project manager. But now, he is a full-time writer, chronicling the adventures of the Blitz Detective, a historical mystery series.
The story is set in the 1940s as Britain is hiding in the darkness of the blackout–until Hitler unleashes the terror of the Blitz. His bombs rain down, and the night skies of London are lit up by fires. They say you could read a newspaper by its light. Life changes overnight – suddenly it seems there’s death around every corner. But murder is still murder – and bombs or no bombs, for Detective Inspector John Jago of the Metropolitan Police, the hunt for justice must go on.
How to read the Blitz Detective Series in Order?
Every entry in the Blitz Detective book series may be read as a standalone, although the lives of the many characters change from one novel to the next.
- The Blitz Detective (2015, aka Direct Hit) – Saturday 7th September, 1940. Until the recognizable scream of the air-raid sirens signals an enemy assault, Londoners may be forgiven for forgetting their nation was at war while the sun is shining. Normal life has quickly come to a halt as the Blitz has begun, but criminality has not. A man’s body is found that evening in an unmarked vehicle in West Ham’s back alleys. When Detective Inspector John Jago is sent to the scene, he recognizes the victim as Charles Villiers, a local justice of the peace. The killing appears fishy, but a German bomb destroys all proof. Murder is still murder, war or no war, and it’s Jago’s responsibility to unearth the facts.
- The Canning Town Murder (2016, aka Fifth Column) – September, 1940. Britain is abuzz with whispers of enemy spies as the Blitz wreaks havoc on London each night and Hitler readies his invasion fleet in seized France, just across the Channel. Nobody can be trusted, and suspicion is at an all-time high. When rescuers return to a damaged street in Canning Town and find a body that shouldn’t be there, they are unnerved. Detective Inspector John Jago is asked to look into the incident when a closer inspection of the corpse indicates that it was caused by strangulation. Even her family doesn’t seem to be really concerned by the woman’s passing. As Jago continues to look, he begins to find a trail of lies, treachery, and love entanglements.
- The Custom House Murder (2017, aka Enemy Action) – September, 1940. People are clamoring for retribution after London was subjected to the Blitz for almost a month, yet once again, more damage is predicted by the night. When the warning siren sounds, frightened citizens of Custom House obediently proceed to the closest public air-raid shelter. People evacuate as dawn signals the all-clear, but one man is still there; he has been stabbed through the heart and is dead. John Jago, a detective inspector, learns that the victim was a pacifist. Then why did he have a loaded handgun in his pocket, though?
- The Stratford Murder (2018, aka Firing Line) – October, 1940. Air-raid warden Sylvia Parks notices a house with a blazing light, obviously in violation of the city’s tight blackout regulations, as bombs are raining on Stratford. When she tries to open the door but gets no response, she manages to go inside and finds a young woman’s body inside, strangled to death with a stocking. Could there be a connection? For Detective Inspector John Jago, the image brought to mind the horrific Soho Strangler, who murdered four women a few years ago but was never apprehended.
- The Dockland Murder (2021) – The only sounds at London’s Royal Albert Dock during the blackout are the lap of inky water against the wharf and the sporadic scamper of rats’ feet. A police officer on patrol notices something as he passes the just-arrived cargo SS Magnolia. A guy with what seems to be an exotic dagger in his back is sprawled awkwardly over a neighboring ship. The victim was a dock worker by day and a house Guard member at night, according to DI Jago of West Ham CID, and there are things even his wife, who was blasted out of their flimsy house in Silvertown, doesn’t know about his background. Who intended to murder him?
- The Pimlico Murder (2021) – Armistice Day, 1940. While a new, terrifying struggle rages on, the nation recalls the Great War. John Jago, a Blitz Detective, is forced to put his own traumatic experiences aside in order to look into a suspected death in Pimlico, southwest London. In an Anderson shelter, a young man’s corpse was found with two white poppies in his pocket. Jago and DC Cradock, his assistant, become immersed in Pimlico’s seedy underbelly and ties to Mosley’s fascist party as the inquiry goes on. To discover the truth regarding the young man’s horrific death, they will need to use all of their expertise.
- The Camden Murder (2022) – November 1940. Blackout restrictions are proven useless as dawn breaks in Camden Town, north London, when a vehicle catches fire and burns ferociously close to the Regent’s Canal. The cops discover the charred remains of a corpse inside the burned-out car. Les Latham, a business traveler for the candy company Baring & Sons, is the victim. Though he enjoyed the moniker “Lucky Les,” his good fortune has now run out. Among Latham’s possessions, Detective Inspector John Jago finds a mystery image and several odd-looking gasoline ration booklets. These set him on a tangled path of betrayal, corruption, and murder. It appears that in order to identify an unexpected killer, the Blitz Detective will have to create his own luck.
- The Covent Garden Murder (2023) – December, 1940. Christmas is overshadowed by the Blitz’s death and devastation. The war has forced the closure of theaters and destroyed market commerce in London’s Covent Garden, where the glitz of theaterland coexists with the bustle of the capital’s largest fruit and vegetable market. Rescuers discover a guy dying in the rubble after an air bomb strikes Drury Lane’s Prince Albert Theatre during the day. His life is being taken by a knife, not a bomb, and as he passes away, he makes what appears to be a jumbled confession. Was the dead guy himself a killer? is a question that Detective Inspector John Jago must wrestle with as he starts his investigation.
If you like our article about reading the Blitz Detective reading order by Mike Hollow, don’t forget to bookmark it! You may also be interested in The Railway Detective series by Edward Marston or the Museum Mysteries by Jim Eldridge.