I am beyond thrilled to be kicking off this blog tour together with Short Book and Scribes. ‘Plenty Under the Counter’ was originally published in 1943 and has now been published in paperback by the Imperial War Museum along with three other wartime classics to mark the 80th anniversary of the outbreak of the Second World War.
I would like to thank Anne Cater of Random Things Tours for inviting me to participate in this tour. Thanks also to Anne and the publisher for my review copy.
You will find out my thoughts on ‘Plenty Under the Counter’ in a minute.
London, 1942. Flight-Lieutenant David Heron, home on convalescent leave, awakes to the news that a murder victim has been discovered in the garden of his boarding house. With a week until his service resumes, David sets out to solve the murder. Drawn into a world of mystery and double-dealing, he soon realises that there is more to the inhabitants of the boarding house than meets the eye, and that wartime London is a place where opportunism and the black market are able to thrive. Can he solve the mystery before his return to the skies?
Inspired by Kathleen Hewitt s own experience of wartime London, this new edition of a 1943 classic includes a contextual introduction from IWM which sheds light on the fascinating true events that so influenced its author.
‘With a dead body on the first page and a debonair RAF pilot as the sleuth, this stylish whodunit takes you straight back to Blitzed London and murder most foul. Several plausible suspects, a femme fatale, witty dialogue, memorable scenes and unexpected twists it boasts everything a great whodunit should have, and more.’ ANDREW ROBERTS, author of Churchill: Walking with Destiny
I really enjoyed reading ‘Plenty Under the Counter’. I thought the introduction to this story was just wonderful. I also loved the cover and spent quite a while looking at it. I think that this book being republished along with three other wartime classics by the Imperial War Museum is such a good idea.
I found it very interesting reading a story that was originally published in 1943. I love fiction that is set during or after the war, but to read a book that was actually written all those years ago was actually pretty amazing, especially as the author herself experienced life in London during the Second World War. I really liked the style of writing and the way the words just flowed.
The story opened with Flight-Lieutenant David Heron waking up to the news that a murder had taken place in the back garden of where he was staying. From then on, his interest was piqued, and he was determined to help solve the crime before his service resumed.
There was much more to things than just the murder and I felt that I got quite a lot out of this story. The black market played a big part as well.
There were quite a number of interesting characters in the story. My favourites were David and his girlfriend, Tess. I found it hard to like many of the others though.
This was a classic whodunnit and it had me trying to work out who the murderer was. It was nice seeing all the pieces of the puzzle coming together and as David’s investigations progressed, I started to suspect at least a couple of people. I wasn’t overly surprised at who the killer turned out to be I have to say.
If you like classic crime, then I recommend you read ‘Plenty Under the Counter’. You will find yourself hooked.
‘Plenty Under the Counter’ is available to purchase from Amazon UK:-
I hope my review has left you wanting to read ‘Plenty Under the Counter’. Below is some information about all four titles.
The Four titles are:
From the City, From the Plough by Alexander Baron – A vivid and moving account of preparations for DDay and the advance into Normandy. Published in the 75th anniversary year of the D-Day landings, this is based on the author’s first-hand experience of D-Day and has been described by Antony Beevor as ‘undoubtedly one of the very greatest British novels of the Second World War.’
Alexander Baron was a widely acclaimed author and screenwriter and his London novels have a wide following. This was his first novel.
Trial by Battle by David Piper – A quietly shattering and searingly authentic depiction of the claustrophobia of jungle warfare in Malaya described by William Boyd as ‘A tremendous rediscovery of a brilliant novel. Extremely well-written, its effects are both sophisticated and visceral. Remarkable’, and VS Naipaul as ‘one of the most absorbing and painful books about jungle warfare that I have read’ and by Frank Kermode as ‘probably the best English novel to come out of the Second World War.’
David Piper was best known as director of the National Portrait Gallery, the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge and the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford. The novel is based on his time serving with the Indian Army in Malaya where he was captured by the Japanese and spent three years as a POW. His son, Tom Piper, was the designer of the hugely successful Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red installation of ceramic poppies at the Tower of London to commemorate the First World War Centenary.
Eight Hours from England by Anthony Quayle – A candid account of SOE operations in occupied Europe described by Andrew Roberts as ‘As well as being one of our greatest actors, Anthony Quayle was an intrepid war hero and his autobiographical novel is one of the greatest adventure stories of the Second World War. Beautifully written and full of pathos and authenticity, it brings alive the terrible moral decisions that have to be taken by soldiers under unimaginable pressures in wartime.’
Anthony Quayle was a renowned Shakespearean actor, director and film star and during the Second World War was a Special Operations Executive behind enemy lines in Albania.
Plenty Under the Counter by Kathleen Hewitt – a murder mystery about opportunism and the black market set against the backdrop of London during the Blitz. ‘With a dead body on the first page and a debonair RAF pilot as the sleuth, this stylish whodunit takes you straight back to Blitzed London and murder most foul. Several plausible suspects, a femme fatale, witty dialogue, memorable scenes and unexpected twists – it boasts everything a great whodunit should have, and more.’ Andrew Roberts.
Kathleen Hewitt was a British author and playwright who wrote more than 20 novels in her lifetime. She was part of an artistic set in 1930’s London which included Olga Lehman and the poet Roy Campbell.
IWM (Imperial War Museums) tells the story of people who have lived, fought and died in conflicts involving Britain and the Commonwealth since the First World War.
Our unique collections, made up of the everyday and the exceptional, reveal stories of people, places, ideas and events. Using these, we tell vivid personal stories and create powerful physical experiences across our five museums that reflect the realities of war as both a destructive and creative force. We challenge people to look at conflict from different perspectives, enriching their understanding of the causes, course and consequences of war and its impact on people’s lives.
IWM’s five branches which attract over 2.5 million visitors each year are IWM London, IWM’s flagship branch that recently transformed with new, permanent and free First World War Galleries alongside new displays across the iconic Atrium to mark the Centenary of the First World War; IWM North, housed in an iconic award-winning building designed by Daniel Libeskind; IWM Duxford, a world renowned aviation museum and Britain’s best preserved wartime airfield; Churchill War Rooms, housed in Churchill’s secret headquarters below Whitehall; and the Second World War cruiser HMS Belfast.