The atmosphere portrayed in this book is incredible. England is seriously in debt from WWII and in 1947 everything is rationed – to the extent that most people can barely get enough food to survive. Coal is also rationed and it is an incredibly cold winter – so cold that the Thames freezes over. People wear their threadbare coats indoors. But the rich and well-connected still have access to black-market goods.
MI6 is riddled with spies and some high up in MI5 decide that the biggest risk to security is homosexuals in secure jobs who can be compromised. Peter Cotton (ex-colonel) has the task of looking into cases where homosexuals have been harassed. Working with him is an officer from Special Branch, a rent-boy and a homosexual refugee German driver. They battle Government bureaucracy and razor wielding thugs until the operation is eventually shut down.
The book took a while to get going and maybe I missed something early on. I found that most of the secondary characters weren’t very engaging so I was a bit confused about who everyone was. This was one of those books that I just couldn’t get into. I couldn’t quite work out the purpose of what Peter Cotton was doing and I have no idea if he achieved what he set out to do.
However, the atmospheric setting was excellent. And, it certainly puts 2012 austerity measures into perspective!
Icelight won this year’s UK Crime Writers Association Historical Dagger. From the books that I have read from the shortlist, my favourite was ‘The Crown’ by Nancy Bilyeau.
Book Published 2011