How I Go About Making My Wartime Detective Series Historically Accurate

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From Digital Pubbing:

  • The internet is a great starting point and useful for specific details, like the weather on a particular day
  • To dig deeper, history books, biographies, and diaries are helpful, as are novels written during or shortly after a specific period of time, such as a war
  • If possible, try to visit specific locations to make sure you correctly identify key details

I write a detective series set in World War Two London. So far there are five books in the series and I am currently working on the sixth. The series features Detective Chief Inspector Frank Merlin who is based at Old Scotland Yard, the main London police headquarters during the war. The books so far in the series have followed Merlin’s crime adventures from January 1940 (Frank Merlin 1: Princes Gate now retitled The Embassy Murders*) to August 1943 (Frank Merlin 5: Dead In The Water). The as yet untitled Frank Merlin 6 will be set in the spring of 1943. (*Please note the titles of my first three books have recently been changed.)

I take great care to maintain historical accuracy in my books. While the crimes Merlin investigates are purely fictional, they all take place against a background of real historic events and I try to make sure that background is presented correctly. In addition real historical figures often feature in the books and I endeavour to represent them as fairly as I can while also ensuring that their presence in the story is practically feasible.

I touch upon a wide range of historical events and developments in my books. The first in the series concerns murders at the American Embassy. The Ambassador at the beginning of 1940 was Joseph Kennedy who was a prominent appeaser. He thought the British had no hope of winning against Hitler and should come to terms with Germany. Many prominent British people thought the same and Merlin‘s murder investigations take place against this political background.

My second book (now titled In The Shadows Of The Blitz) takes place in September 1940, as London begins to suffer from mass German bombing.  Book 3 (now The French Spy) is set in June 1941 and the murder story is entwined with a tale of spying among De Gaulle’s Free French in London. A Death In Mayfair (Frank Merlin 4)  is set in December 1941, around the time of Japan’s Pearl Harbour attack, and involves the wartime British film industry. The latest book, Dead In The Water, is set in the summer of 1942 against the background of the arrival of American military forces in Britain.

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