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The Lover    by Laura Wilson order for
by Laura Wilson
Order:  USA  Can
Felony & Mayhem, 2011 (2004)
Hardcover, Softcover
* * *   Reviewed by Mary Ann Smyth

It's the Blitz, in the autumn of 1940. London is on fire. Germany is raining down bombs every night. Londoners are sleeping in shelters or in their basements or under their kitchen tables. In the midst of this horror, prostitutes ply their trade. Their clients find them on the blackened streets, the women shining flashlights on their own faces.

As if life weren't hard enough, someone is stalking these women – preferably brown-haired ones – to rape, torture, and ultimately strangle them with their own mended stockings. The Lover follows several ladies of the night as they ply their trade in fear of their lives, but knowing that if they don't they can't pay their bills or buy food for their children. We, the readers, know who is the culprit. No one else does – sometimes not even himself.

The Lover is an intriguing novel. First it uses a horrendous time during World War II to set the scene. And does it very well. As I read of the conditions and of the residents of London and their reaction to the war, I forgot this was supposed to be a mystery. It came as a shock that, indeed, it was a mystery.

I had become caught up in the Blitz and remembered the era in which it occurred. How very different the lives of us here in the States were at that time. The shelters must have been hell. But, even then, intolerance existed. The ladies of the night were singled out with gossip and whispers and pointed glances. We are given insights into these women's motives and feel a little empathy for them.

All in all, The Lover is a truly captivating book that was so very hard to put down, if you will pardon the cliché. It's well-written with a firm grip of the history of that time as well as a look into the mind and actions of a murderer. Don't miss it.

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