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WW2 thriller set in Ireland and London

11th July 2020

The City in Flames by Michael Russell – WW2 thriller set in Ireland and London.

WW2 thriller set in Ireland and London

The City in Flames is the the latest in the Stefan Gillespie series by Michael Russell. We have them all on the TripFiction site, but this is the first I has read. It is very good.

The story moves rapidly between Camden Town and Ireland – with cameo appearances by Berlin and Scotland. It features MI6, the London police, the Irish security services, and a German spy. There is much double crossing and double dealing. It is exciting.

I do, though, have one question – which I guess also applies to the other books in the series. Unless the reader has a passable understanding of WW2, and how it impacted the relationship between England, Germany, and an allegedly neutral Ireland, the story could be more than a little confusing. I suspect a fair number of readers nowadays will not have this background knowledge. You have to know about the IRA (and its impact on Irish politics at the time), and the separate issues of Northern Ireland to get to grips with what is going on. It is not straightforward.

In TripFiction terms, the Camden Town area of London as it was in the war years is very well described. The Black Cat Carreras cigarette factory features – and it takes me back to the late 60s when, as a very junior executive in an ad agency, I worked in Greater London House – an art deco office block conversion of the famous landmark factory. Also featuring prominently in the book is Mornington Crescent tube station, which was used as an air raid shelter at the time… though it may be more familiar to the current middle aged generation as the name of a made up panel game that featured on BBC Radio’s ‘I’m Sorry, I Haven’t a Clue’ satirical quiz programme.

All in all, The City of Flames is a good read – but do bear in mind the historical context. Might be worth a quick whip through the relevant Wikipedia pages before you start?

Tony for the TripFiction team

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