Set during World War I, The Home Front Detective series by Edward Marston (The Railway Detective) features a London detective named Detective Inspector Harvey Marmion who frequently has to deal with crimes that take place at home. He employs his investigative abilities to solve these crimes while negotiating the particular difficulties presented by the wartime environment.
The Home Front Detective series provides insight into the social, political, and economic changes resulting from World War I and how these changes affected crime and investigations at the time.
How to read the Home Front Detective Series in Order?
Although each novel in Edward Marston’s Home Front Detective book series may be read independently, the lives of the various characters change as the series progresses.
- A Bespoke Murder (2011) – May 1915. Attacks on German immigrants increase as anti-German fervor reaches a fever pitch when zeppelin bombs fall on London and the Lusitania sinks. Even London’s West End is not safe. A horrific attack on Jacob Stein’s custom clothing company results in the destruction of his safe, the rape of his daughter Ruth, and Jacob’s death.
Inspector Harvey Marmion is assigned to the investigation and must battle against all odds to find the criminals despite the Front Line’s devastation. But was the murder as random as it first seems, or was it planned by someone with a lethal vendetta?
- An Instrument of Slaughter (2012) – December 1915. Conscription is about to be imposed in Britain. Young men who are eligible but have not yet enlisted to battle are hated and abused verbally as “conchies” and “shirkers.” At a gathering of the No-Conscription Fellowship, Cyril Ablatt, the head of Shoreditch’s group of conscientious objectors, gives a stirring address on his refusal to be “an instrument of slaughter in a khaki uniform.” Inspector Marmion and Sergeant Keedy of Scotland Yard are given the case after Cyril is viciously bludgeoned to death. Behind Cyril’s pious exterior, the two discover a fascinating private life as they piece together an image of him. It quickly becomes apparent that there are many suspicious individuals with murderous intentions.
- Five Dead Canaries (2013) – 1916. A new generation of women arises to maintain the Home Front while thousands of Britons fight on the Front Line. The munitionettes, or “canaries,” are distinguished by their chemically-stained yellow cheeks and their independence and ferocity. Florrie Duncan, one of the rowdy bunch of ladies, intends to have a lavish birthday celebration at the Golden Goose bar. However, the joy is short-lived when all but one are slain in a horrifying explosion.
- Deeds of Darkness (2014) – Charlotte Reid, a young woman, is found dead in a movie theater in June 1916. The responsibility of locating the murderer who escaped so evasively in the dark is given to Harvery Marmion and Joe Keedy. Soon after, two further victims with uncanny similarities but different backgrounds are discovered dead across the city. Paul, Marmion’s son, is marching toward the Battle of the Somme while preparing for life on the front lines thousands of miles away from home.
- Dance of Death (2015) – England, 1916. Simon Wilder is too focused to see that he is being pursued as he sneaks out of a residence in the early morning hours. The street lights start to flicker as he moves along it, signaling that there has been another Zeppelin strike. Guns start to fire as British jets start attacking the Zeppelin. It suddenly erupts into flames, illuminating the entire sky. Simon Wilder is the only one who is unable to witness the big fireball’s gradual descent and subsequent crash as the spectators rejoice. He gets stabbed to death and abandoned in an alleyway while he is gazing up at the sky. Inspector Marmion and Sergeant Keedy will find it to be a highly perplexing case.
- The Enemy Within (2016) – Prison at Pentonville. Wally Hubbard is currently incarcerated after committing arson. Hubbard, however, manages a daring escape after gaining the friendship and trust of one of the policemen. Inspector Marmion, the police officer who apprehended Hubbard, is cautioned to guard his back, but it appears that Hubbard has his deadly sights set on yet another victim. The inquiry is hampered by misunderstanding, and the names of the murderer and victim are unclear. The situation becomes even more complicated by a camp inmate who may be a spy passing information to the Germans. Add to this the increasing number of manhunts and Marmion’s anxiety for his disabled and reclusive son Paul, and the investigator is left in a terrible situation with maybe too many loose ends to unwind.
- Under Attack (2017) – June, 1917. A man’s body is pulled from the Thames while German Gotha bombers attack London from above. Detective Inspector Marmion and Sergeant Keedy struggle to identify the victim before they can start their investigation properly since the killer took care to remove identifying materials and even labels off the guy before he was abandoned to his watery death. The man had been garrotted and had his tongue cut out. The list of suspects gets longer as relatives and business partners are located, and while Marmion struggles with the investigation, he and his family must also deal with their concerns about his now-missing son Paul.
- The Unseen Hand (2019) – 1917. The top of London’s society is drawn to the Lotus Hotel because it provides a haven for its solely female customers. The Lotus’s image as a safe haven is called into question when a dead corpse is discovered in one of its rooms, especially since it turns out the lady was neither a visitor nor a member of staff. When sent to investigate what happened at the hotel, Inspector Marmion and Sergeant Keedy quickly become suspicious of foul play. The two will have to go into the past in order to solve this crime in the present as they tangle with a forgetful widower, a cunning rival, and an arrogant hotel owner.
- Orders to Kill (2021) – December 1917. On a chilly morning, Ada Hobbes arrives to clean the residence owned by Dr. Tindall, an orthopedic specialist at the Edmonton Military Hospital. She is horrified to discover her boss’s bloody body lying on the floor. He was murdered with a knife. They find a horrible sight when Detective Inspector Harvey Marmion and Sergeant Joe Keedy arrive. There was no question that someone had liked murdering him. The course of their research leads them far from London and onto the trail of a completely different Dr. Tindall-a man who was not the reputable neighborhood physician that everyone had assumed he was. To discover the perpetrator of this horrific crime, Marmion and Keedy will need to go through a number of leading candidates.
- Danger of Defeat (2023) – February, 1918. A police officer is found dead in the early morning hours after a burglary in Limehouse turned into a terrifying standoff between a gang of criminals and the authorities. When attempts to convince the guys to give themselves up are greeted with stony silence, Detective Inspector Harvey Marmion and Detective Sergeant Joe Keedy race to the scene. Keedy fearlessly leads the way inside once the door has finally been beaten down. Keedy has been struck, and a gunshot can then be heard.
- Spring Offensive (Coming in 2024)