Poppy Redfern and the Midnight Murders

Tessa Arlen is critically acclaimed for her Lady Montfort historical mysteries, set during World War I (Death of a Dishonorable Gentleman was a finalist for the 2016 Agatha Award for Best First Novel). She turns her attention to World War II with Poppy Redfern and the Midnight Murders, the first in a projected series. History buffs will delight in this deep-dive into a charming English village in 1942 that has been torn apart more by murders of young women than by the war at its doorstep.

Poppy Redfern, the village air raid warden, is an aspiring author. Similar to the deep internal monologue of Jacqueline Winspear's beloved Maisie Dobbs, Poppy's thoughts become an internal dialogue with the main character of her novel as she investigates the strangling of local women who have been dating American servicemen. As Poppy's fiction becomes increasingly reflective of her present, the two stories begin to run parallel. This quick read sets up the relationships in Little Buffenden, and the Redfern family's role in the village, as their land has been turned into the American air force airfield. It also races to an exciting conclusion, for both Poppy's development as a writer and for the killer--who may make Poppy the next victim. With her steady companion, a Corgi named Bess (dog fans will rejoice that Bess emerges mostly unscathed from the heart-pounding climax) at her side, Poppy faces the reality that life in fiction and in fact is becoming increasingly complicated during these tumultuous times. --BrocheAroe Fabian, owner, River Dog Book Co., Beaver Dam, Wis.

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