Murder on the Home Front
by Jessica Ellicott
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Pub Date 02 May 2023 | Archive Date 31 May 2023
Disrespect, disdain - and dead bodies! It's all in a day's work for WPC Billie Harkness, a pioneering female police officer protecting the home front in this gripping WWII British historical mystery.
"A fresh and different take on WWII stories with an appealing young heroine" New York Times bestselling author Rhys Bowen on Death in a Blackout
1940. It's been a month since rector's daughter Billie Harkness left her rural village to make a fresh start in the northern city of Hull. Now she has a new home and an exciting new job as one of only two female police constables in the whole city. But Hull still feels like a foreign country, and some people are less than impressed by the idea of a woman doing a 'man's job'.
Facing disrespect from her colleagues and suspicion from the public, Billie throws herself into her work. The tasks she's assigned might be menial, but she's determined to do her bit for the war effort. The chance to prove her worth comes during a search for a missing air raid shelter inspector, when Billie makes a shocking discovery: his dead body, in a shelter that's been stripped of all its valuables.
The officers summoned to investigate the scene believe it's an open and shut case, but Billie's not so sure. Asking questions means making enemies though - and little does she know that vile rumors about her are spreading, with the power to erase everything she's tried so hard to achieve . . .
Murder on the Home Front is the second stunning mystery in the new WPC Billie Harkness series. It's a great choice for readers of Jacqueline Winspear, Rhys Bowen and Susan Elia MacNeal.
Available on NetGalley
Average rating from 19 members
This is the second in a very good series set in Hull in the early years of WWII. WPC Billie Harkness works with her partner to solve the murder of a man found in an air raid shelter as she also deals with more complications of being a woman in a traditionally male job. The historical details are fascinating and woven into the plot very effectively. The series gives a great idea of all the uncertainties and anxieties of living through the war, even for those at home.
The mystery was compelling and well plotted, while the characters continue to shine. There are hints of a potential romantic interest in this one, and I look forward to the next in the series. Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for an advance copy in exchange for an honest review.
One of the best new WWII mysteries series out. I find that WWII fiction books are a dime a dozen. Most you can leave on the shelf, but a few like WPC Billie Harkness are well written with a good mystery and historical detail. Billie and Peter are likable heroes that you want to see succeed.
This was a really well done historical World War 2 historical mystery novel. I enjoyed getting to know Billie Harkness as a main characters and loved the adventure going on in this series. It was a strong sequel in this series and had what I enjoyed from the first book. The rest of the cast worked in the universe and I enjoyed trying to solve the mystery. I enjoyed what Jessica Ellicott wrote and look forward to more.
"It was funny the sorts of things that people in the city took for granted that she had never encountered before arriving in Hull. The height of the buildings, the ceaseless rumble of traffic along the streets, the profusion of cinemas, restaurants and dance halls. She wondered if Peter ever gave any thought to how miraculous the tram system truly was. They rode on in silence and she was surprised at how comfortable it was to be in his presence without the need to speak."
In the second installment of the WPC Billie Harkness series, "Murder on the Home Front" begins weeks after the conclusion of "Death in a Blackout". Wilhelmina "Billie" Harkness is finding her footing as a Woman Police Constable. As one of two WPC, Billie is trying to find her way in a male dominated workplace. To make things harder, the majority of her male coworkers think that he job should be typing, filing, and making tea, not patrolling and the streets and helping solve crimes.
On one shift of duty, Billie is assigned front desk duty to field complaints from the community of possible crimes and missing people. It is July 1940 in Kingston upon Hull, England and the blitz is underway. Each night the city is under blackout regulations, where no lights should be seen from the streets. Crime has slowly begun to rise due to the blackouts. People are also missing because of the blitz, either because of death during the bombings or relocating out of Hull to escape the falling bombs. A husband and wife come in to report their lodger is missing, still owing them the past month's rent. Billie takes the information, not sure on what the constabulary can do with a possible rent jumper. Later, she and Peter Upton, her mentor turned partner, are sent out to investigate break-ins in bomb shelters and thefts of items from the shelters. When checking one shelter to see if it too had been robbed, they find a murder victim with two identification cards.
Around the same time, Peter Upton, a volunteer constable and a dock inspector, is feeling the strain of working two jobs. The bright spot, for reasons he does not want to think too deeply on, is working with Billie. As he gets ready for his shift, he notices that his constabulary badge is missing from his boardinghouse room. Did he lose it at the docks? Did it fall out of his jacket pocket when he was walking home? How is he going to keep his job when others have lost their jobs for the same offense?
The mystery of the dead man deepens and Billie and Peter investigate. But Billie feels like Peter is hiding something from him. Conversely, Peter has heard some rumors about Billie. Are they true and how will it effect their working relationship?
The mystery is a interesting puzzle that involves fake ID cards, the black market, and possible treason. Things are not as they appear and the dead ends are frustrating for both Peter and Billie. But Billie is improving her investigating skills, even when she has to deal with situations that bring up the situations that brought Billie to Hull in the first place (although ready the first book in the series is not necessary to enjoy the second book, it does have great background information on the main characters that helps with the understanding of the motives of both Peter and Billie). The slow burn of the relationship between Peter and Billie is also sweet as they both decide which lines should and should not be crossed.
So come join Billie, Peter, and the rest of Hull in this great World War II mystery. I look forward to the next installment and to see Billie come into her own as a WPC. Oh, and to see what Billie and Peter are up to next, both professionally, and hopefully romantically.
This is an interesting read. We think so much of the big events in WWII, but so much went on in Britain and America on the home front.
A huge shift was the high numbers of women going into the workforce as the men were off fighting.
Here is a local constable in England learning the ropes of her job along with dealing with workplace harassment.
A murder mystery is woven into the story. Black out conditions gave a lot more opportunity for crimes to be committed.
My first read of this character Billie Harkness. A female constable in a male dominated constabulary during WW11 in London.
After break ins in the local air raid shelters to a missing person, Billie is given a chance to prove herself to investigate along with Constable Peter Upton as they discover who and what is behind the thefts and murder.
A great read by the author as always.
Murder in Hull!
WPC Billie Harkness is once again drawn into a murder investigation along with Constable Peter Upton. Whilst they’re checking out a raided bomb shelter Billie discovers the body of a man strangled with some clothesline wire.
Their investigations will lead them a frustrating chase over a wide ranging area.
At the same time there’s been a spate of small items missing from Peter’s boarding house including his police badge. Peter’s kept quiet about that as he thought he’d been careless with it.
Back in Hull a teenage boy was recently run over by a truck and killed. A man is reported missing by his landlords. There’s been some chatter about fifth columnists and Billie feels concerned. Somethings not right, a little bit off.
As Billie and Peter follow up their investigations, dots that seem random and farfetched, start to intertwine.
Billie meanwhile is having her own problems with Constable Drummond. He’s been sexually harassing her. Sergeant Skeleton comes upon them locked in what seems like an embrace and comes to quite the wrong conclusion. Billie doesn’t know quite how to handle it and doesn’t want to tell her superiors. I must admit to feeling Billie’s shame, fright and anger.
Another well written and exciting addition to this series. With tension mounting, all the factors spill over, coming together with a satisfying conclusion, including Drummond.
A Severn House ARC via NetGalley.
Many thanks to the author and publisher.
(Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.)
WPC Billie Harkness is dealing with more than crime in her new job in Hull. It's 1940 and some people aren't prepared to have a female police officer but she's persistent. And she's got a murder on her hands as well as many petty crimes. This is an interesting Homefront crime novel with a unique heroine and setting (I like that it's set in Hull). I missed the first book in this series but this was fine as a standalone. Thanks to Netgalley for the ARC. A very good read and I'm looking forward to the next one.
Billie Harkness has been on the job as one of only two female constables in the Hull police force for a few weeks now. In that time, neither her co-workers nor the public have come to accept her any more then when she first started. One of her true allies has been Peter Upton, a fellow constable who has been training her. When the two of them find a dead body in an air raid shelter, Billie discovers some details that don’t make any sense. Can they use those to figure out what happened to the victim?
It was great to be back in summer 1940 with Billie and Peter. While most of the book is written from Billie’s third person point of view, we get some scenes from Peter’s, and they help flesh out the characters and plot wonderfully. I was hooked the entire way through the story, although I did wonder where it was going a bit at first. Once the body turned up, things were full speed ahead until we reached the end. There is a strong sub-plot that is unfortunately too real and should not have been acceptable then or now. I appreciated how it was handled. The overall mystery is something that could only be told in England during World War II, and it helped bring details of that time in history to life for me. If you enjoy historical mysteries, you need to pick it up.
July 1940 Kingston-upon-Hull. WPC Billie Harkness and SPC Peter Upton while searching air raid shelters discover the body of a male who has several different I.D. cards on him. Who is he really and what has he been doing whilst in Hull. Billie and Peter are allowed to investigate. Meanwhile Billie suffers from harassment from one of the constables while Peter has his police badge stolen among other items from his lodging.
A well-written entertaining historical mystery with its likeable main characters. A good addition to this series.
An ARC was provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
Really enjoy this historical cozy series. Billie Harkness moved to Hull, a major English port, after the death of her mother and was hired as one of the first two women constables. I love how Billie's native intelligence wins out over her shyness and the hestiancies of doing a man's job in an often hostile environment. When tasked with typing another officer's reports, she notices discrepancies and brings them to a superior's attention. She and her partner find the way through the labyrinth of missing articles, a child's death, and black market activities making for a satisfying and enjoyable read.
Murder On The Home Front is the second book in the A WPC Billie Harkness Mystery series by Jessica Ellicott.
It’s 1940 in the port city of Hull, England, and Billie Harkness is very grateful to her cousin, Lydia, for inviting her to live in Hull and suggesting she consider joining the local constabulary. Billie enjoys being a constable but wishes she was out patrolling the streets more. She’s assigned chiefly things the male constables don’t want to perform, typing, filing, and making tea. Billie wishes to be out on the streets with frequent partner Peter Upton.
As Billie is changing into her uniform, Constable Drummond is accosted by Constable Drummond, completely unwanted, and Sgt Skeleton sees them in unison. For this shift, Billie has been assigned to the front desk, where she will take down information about citizens needing the attention of constables. A couple reports their lodger has gone missing owing a week's rent. Billie and Peter are soon sent out to investigate the theft of items from a local air raid center. When they reach the center, they find a dead man who had been strangled. Billie finds two blank wartime IDs. Peter will share with Billie that most people who share lodgings with him have reported the theft of personal property. Even he has to admit to Billie that his badge has been stolen. Billie senses that these three cases are related and convinces Peter that they are. They will set out, try them together sandwich will lead them to the murderer.
This is a terrific, well-written, plotted, and historically accurate new series. The characters are well-developed, engaging, and believable. Billie and Peter work exceptionally well together. There appears to be some interest in each other apart from their policing activities. The book reads at a swift pace and has many twists and turns. I was kept guessing as to the killer's identity until the end of the book.
I’m anxiously awaiting the next book in this enjoyable series.
I love Jessica Ellicott's mystery series and I love Billie Harkness, a clever and strong characters.
This is the second instalment in this series and I liked how Billie changed and how she's adapting to living in a big town like Hull.
The mystery is solid and kept me guessing, the characters are fleshed out.
A compelling and gripping novel, highly recomended.
Many thanks to the publisher for this arc, all opinions are mine