TheDeadofWinterRennieAi54155_fSo The Dead of Winter is the third in the John Madden mystery trilogy; I read the first a long time before I started blogging, but reviewed the second here.

Another police procedural, this one is set during the Second World War, and begins with a murder in Paris and the theft of a number of valuable diamonds. The action then moves to London in the blackout, where a young Polish girl is murdered, seemingly at random. Of course, as with all good mysteries, there is significantly more to this than meets the eye.

Madden gets drawn into the investigation surrounding this crime because the girl in question, Rosa Nowak, was a land girl working on his farm. He feels that this wasn’t a random crime, that there was a reason Rosa was killed, and determines to help his former colleagues in any way he can. And of course he is right, and as the bodies pile up all over the place it becomes clear they are dealing with a particularly ruthless and efficient killer and that the motive is buried in Rosa’s past.

It’s always difficult reviewing books in a series because you tend to find that the things that you loved in the earlier book(s) are repeated in the later ones. So again, a sense of melancholy in Madden’s character, his happy home life contrasting with the lives of the people drawn into this crime are all very satisfying; what’s different here is how effectively Airth gives a sense of London as the war is coming to an end, the weariness of the population and the need to make do in their everyday lives. There’s also an interesting subplot about the introduction of women police officers and the limitations that were imposed on them.

Very well written as always, I devoured this one pretty quickly. It’s a real shame that it doesn’t look like there will be any more in the series.