Book Review: Beware this Boy by Maureen Jennings

Beware this BoyBeware This Boy
A Detective Inspector Tom Tyler Mystery
Maureen Jennings
McClelland & Stewart, November 2012
ISBN 978-0-7710-4313-0
Trade Paperback

1940. England is involved in a second war in a generation and everybody is feeling the effects. Maureen Jennings brings another Tom Tyler mystery set at the beginnings of World War II.

England is suffering from German bombing raids. Rationing limits food and supplies to the population. Tom Tyler, a small town police investigator, is sent to Birmingham to look into an explosion at a munitions factory. Is it an accident or sabotage?

Eileen Abbot, who works at the devastated factory, is a scribe for the government, recording incidents and conversations with various people. Close to home, she and her family are also dealing with a relative gone AWOL from the Army. At the workplace, she can’t help but fall for Lev Kaplan, an American who’s posing as a filmmaker. However, Kaplan has ties to a communist organization working to undermine both the British people and the government.

Usually, I’m wary of historical mysteries, but this one was thoroughly enjoyable. Vivid and memorable characters, from the squeamish and weakling boss, to the frightened boy forced to grow up sooner than he is capable of handling. Punks and communists, town folk and cops. Each has a unique perspective on the world around them.  Jennings brought to life the circumstances of the time period. Bombed buildings, the dead discovered in their houses, the dog eat dog, look-out-for-number-one attitude of some people. With a spicy mystery and intrigue added, Beware this Boy is a winner through and through.

Reviewed by Stephen L. Brayton, May 2013.
Author of Night Shadows, Beta and Alpha.