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Forests of the Night by David Stuart Davies
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Forests of the Night (2005)

by David Stuart Davies

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Released from the army due to a training accident, Johnny Hawke can't go back to his former job as a police constable so opens up a private detective agency. The story captures the atmosphere of WW2 London as Hawke the PI investigates the disappearance of a young lady.

The main character's softer side is shown through his caring for a street boy ensuring the lad was cared for. It is this aspect of his character that made me adore him. ( )
  nospi | Feb 7, 2016 |
With Forests of the Night, the first installment of the Johnny Hawke novels, David Stuart Davies deviates from his realm of Sherlock Holmes and introduces a character that author Val McDermid phrased as a "hero with a heart". Johnny Hawke is a compassionate private investigator who is afflicted with the impairment of having only one eye, a casualty of a gun misfiring during his first week after joining the army to serve his country.

This new series takes place in 1940. The place is London during WWII's famous Blitz where the Germans daily bombard the city with nightly attacks leaving London scrambling for cover when air raids warn of incoming planes that will rain destruction killing many people each and every night.

Discharged from the army as disabled, Johnny Hawke turns hard boiled detective and opens up his own private investigation office. The story opens with a visit from a Mr. and Mrs. Palfrey asking Johnny to help them find their missing daughter Pamela who appears to have dropped out of existence two months ago. The next day following their interview, Pamela is found dead in her bed, stabbed through the heart in cold blooded murder. It's now up to Johnny to uncover the clues to why she was so brutally killed, and why she had turned to prostitution and changed her name to Pammie Palmer.

With many suspects all clamoring to give Johnny the slip, this is a pretty straightforward old fashioned who-dunit in the style of Dashell Hammett or Mickey Spillane. Johnny Hawke however is not the usual cold brutish P.I. There are scenes of Johnny falling in love with the girl, temporarily adopting a small street urchin who worms his way into Johnny's heart and home, and many pages of him showing compassion and kindness even amidst the hardships of war and within the criminal minds we see as the bad guys.

Perhaps just a little sappy and corny due to the lifestyle simplicity of the 40's time period, but for those who love the Noir style murder mysteries, and for readers like me who get tired of the contemporary serial killer violent mysteries being pumped out by the thousands for shock effect, I loved this flash to the past entertaining murder-come-lightly. This is the era of trench coats and fedora hats, rotary telephones, and when scripts for books and movies were right out of Casablanca or Dick Tracy. I can't wait to read the rest of the series now that I've found this one-eyed chivalrous private eye! For something fun and out of the ordinary, give Johnny Hawke a chance! ( )
  vernefan | Feb 24, 2010 |
I had a very difficult time placing this book in Britain. Perhaps it is that first-person narrative, particularly detective fiction, seems so quintessentially American. Perhaps it’s the narrator's name itself that seems so un-British. The war is mentioned and the story occasionally accommodates some aspect of the war, but it is not the looming character that makes other wartime books come alive. The setting could be anywhere in the world and in any time that holds the particular morals that drive this murder mystery. ( )
  meerka | Aug 18, 2008 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0312360002, Hardcover)

Forests of the Night introduces the intrepid John Hawke, an exciting new detective operating in London during the Blitz.

When World War II breaks out in London, young policeman John Hawke enlists in the army. His dreams of fighting for his country, however, are cut short after he loses an eye in rifle training. Invalided out of the army and offered a desk job with the police, John sets up as a private investigator in London instead, hoping for excitement and danger.
In the autumn of 1940, John is engaged to investigate the mysterious death of a young woman. What is the connection between her brutal murder and the fading film actor Gordon Moore? Johnny also becomes involved in the plight of a runaway boy who may have witnessed something terrible.
Told with wit and humor, while evoking an atmospheric picture of the home front during the dark days of the Second World War, Forests of the Night is an impressive U.S. debut for David Stuart Davies.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:15:34 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

"Forests In The Night introduces the intrepid John Hawke, an exciting new detective operating in London during the Blitz." "When World War II breaks out in London, young policeman John Hawke enlists in the army. His dreams of fighting for his country, however, are cut short after he loses an eye in rifle training. Invalided out of the army and offered a desk job with the police, John sets up as a private investigator in London instead, hoping for excitement and danger." "In the autumn of 1940, John is engaged to investigate the mysterious death of a young woman. What is the connection between her brutal murder and the fading film actor Gordon Moore? Johnny also becomes involved in the plight of a runaway boy who may have witnessed something terrible."--BOOK JACKET.… (more)

» see all 2 descriptions

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