Barbara Nadel

Ashes to Ashes

""...told by an expert storyteller." "


Set in a very compact time frame and location, this is an interesting account of Francis Hancock's experiences as he shelters from the worst of the Blitz in St Paul's Cathedral on the night of December 29th 1940.

Francis is an undertaker and has his own demons to face from the First World War. Against this background Francis stumbles across a plot involving the disappearance of a young girl and various members of secret cults, including the Freemasons. Francis struggles with both his own terrors and the machinations of an evil and deluded man to find the secrets behind the deaths occurring on that eventful night...

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The tight constraints of both the setting and the time frame have greatly influenced the impact of the story here. On the positive side, the intensity of Hancock's fears is brilliantly portrayed. The details of the firefighting and defence of St Paul's are carefully and lovingly described, together with the geography of St Paul's. The passion for the building and its significance in withstanding the onslaught of the Luftwaffe are clearly brought to life. The detailed and vivid descriptions help you to live that particularly violent night. On the other hand, I miss the details of the other characters associated with Hancock - his family and girlfriend and the other local characters. We are introduced to many new characters, and the element of the supernatural, or individuals' belief in it, does provide a taste of excitement.

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