There are 3 books I’ve read recently that by happenstance seem to fit nicely together.
The first is Full Dark House: A Peculiar Crimes Unit Mystery by Christopher Fowler. The second book is Life After Life by Kate Atkinson, and the third is Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett. The genres of these three books are different, but they all seem to kind of fit together for me.
Full Dark House is a mystery featuring detectives from the Peculiar Crimes Unit. The Unit tends to get cases that seem like they will never be solved, and so it is punted to this unit. Not really a cold case unit, the murder that begins the story is quite recent when the Unit receives it. The book flashes back and forth between a mystery in present day and the first case the two detectives worked in the 1940’s, during the London Blitz. Arthur Bryant is the lead detective, he is also very young, but most of the older detectives are away fighting the war. Bryant reminds me a little of Richard Castle, he just lets his imagination run and sometimes that gets him to the answer. His partner is John May, a perfect more logical foil to Bryant’s flighty-ness. Full Dark House is very British and full of some very British humor, which I love.
Life After Life is the story of a girl, Ursula Dodd, who lives her life over and over. Sometimes she dies at birth, sometimes she lives through two wars. Ursula was born in 1910 and WWI and WWII both fall within at least some of her lifetimes. The book does spend a good amount of time dealing with the London Blitz in WWII. Ursula lives out WWII in a few different iterations and I hate to post spoilers, but there are a few here if you want to go into the book with no real knowledge of it.
Ursula spends the war in one of the government offices that collates data on casualties and damage to buildings in several of her lifetimes. She also volunteers to help rescue people after bombings in a couple of lifetimes. Sometimes she dies in the bombings herself. One time she lives out WWII in Germany, in close proximity to Hitler. It gives an interesting view of what Germany was going through during WWII.
It was interesting to see the difference of the Blitz portrayed as a backdrop of someone just trying to do their real job, like in Full Dark House, versus something that is lived everyday, like Life After Life. Ursula’s life was the war, whereas Bryant and May viewed the war and the Blitz as something that hindered their ability to do their job.
Good Omens is the third book that I am lumping in here. The reason I feel it fits is that it is a book about the apocalypse. Good Omens is funny, and features a couple of great characters in Crowley the demon and Aziraphale the angel. Also, how can you not like a book with a character named Anathema Device? I think this fits in with the Blitz because as the apocalypse begins, people were feeling much like they did during the Blitz. I would think that to many people living through WWII in Europe, it felt like the end of the world, and it was the end of the world for many people. As a side note, I am pretty sure that Crowley in the TV series Supernatural is based on Crowley from Good Omens.
I would recommend all three of these books, although I admit to being a little disappointed in the ending of Life After Life, but the book as a whole was a great read and hard to put down.
I’m going to give Life After Life by Kate Atkinson, 4 stars.
Full Dark House was a great mystery with shades of Phantom of the Opera.
Full Dark House by Christopher Fowler gets 4 stars also.
Finally, Good Omens was a funny book, but with some thought provoking elements too.
Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett receives 5 stars.