Did I ever say I don’t read historicals? Well, I guess I’m a convert now. I’ll most definitely read any historicals as entertaining and well-written as this book.
Author: Chris Quinton
Publisher: Manifold Press
Cover Artist: unknown
Rating: 5.00 of 5 Stars
London, the 1930s: With the cooperation of a top-ranking scientist and his son, Tom Langton and Robert Darnley are sent in as bait for a gang that uses blackmail to steal industrial secrets at a time when Hitler’s rise to power in Germany threatens Europe. The two men are friends, but they each have secrets of their own – and both are well aware that homosexuality is against the law. Living in close quarters, having to portray an illegal relationship, adds unexpected tensions to an already dangerous situation.
Undercover Blues is a variation on the “two gay law enforcement agents fall in love with each other while posing undercover as a gay couple”-theme. Which is a plot element I happen to like a lot and found here better executed than in many others I’ve read with a similar story line. For one, the premise made totally sense here; the course of action was in conformity with its purpose and also with time and place of the story. We’re in pre-WWII London here; the roaring twenties are still lingering in many ways while future events already cast their shadows before. Alcohol and drugs are just as much prohibited goods as homosexuality is illegal, but in the demimonde of night clubs and dance cafés, either can be found in abundance.
For another, the main characters don’t suddenly discover their attraction to men or each other through the assignment. They’re friends and work partners, and they’ve both felt the attraction before – the assignment merely helped them find both the right incentive and the courage to act on their feelings. Also, both are aware of their inclination toward men, even though one of them is a lot more in denial about it than the other.
Anyway, the characters. Rob and Tom are working for IRD, which is apparently some kind of inland intelligence agency or secret police, mostly concerned with treats to the public security that are too “grey area” for the regular police. Their jobs call for a certain ruthlessness combined with commitment to a cause and a high ability to think on their feet. Add to that their British stiff-upper-lippedness and a healthy dose of bone-dry humor, and you have two totally likable main characters who make a perfect match professionally as well as in private.
Not only the main characters but also the secondary cast were well portrayed; particularly Tom and Rob’s boss, Sloan, whom I immediately took into my heart.
The storyline in and of itself wasn’t overly complicated; the plot moved along rather slow which allowed for lots of everyday details that made me feel totally immersed in time and place.
All in all, this was a deliciously intricate caper-mystery-spy novel that I most certainly will read again in order to (re)discover and enjoy all the tiny details that made it such an enjoyable whole. Highly recommended.
I would like to thank the publisher for providing me with the eARC of this title in exchange for my honest opinion.
I have a number of paperbacks, most of which are signed, to giveaway. Over the between now (11 Mar 2017) and 31 Mar 2017, every comment on the blog (this post and all other new posts), will be entered to win 1 of these paperbacks. There are also some misc swag items, so there will be a few packs of these to give away as well.
Thank you so much for your support over the last 4 years. Prism will be closing its doors on 1 April 2017. All content will remain available, but no new content will appear after 31 Mar 2017. As such all request forms have been turned off. Again Thank you,
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