GUEST BLOG POST by Author Mark Ellis:
I have written two novels set in World War Two London and featuring the Anglo-Spanish police detective Frank Merlin. The first novel, Princes Gate, saw Merlin investigating the deaths of employees at the American Embassy in London in the very early days of the war in January 1940. In my recently published second novel, Stalin's Gold, it is September 1940 and Merlin enquires into the disappearance of a Polish RAF pilot as the Battle of Britain and the Blitz rage around him.
My stories are of course fictional but set in a historical period which I have very thoroughly researched. The period around January 1940 in London was called 'the Phoney War' because there was no real sign of war activity in London, with a few exceptions such as the steady increase of rationing and the blackout, while British forces were not yet engaged in military action. This was also a time when many powerful and influential people were supporters of appeasement and favoured coming to a quick settlement with Hitler's Germany. One such person was Joseph P. Kennedy, the American Ambassador and father of the future President John F. Kennedy. He is joined in the book by other characters of the same mind, some fictional some not. In Stalin's Gold, time has moved on and in September 1940 the appeasers influence has waned, Churchill is Prime Minister, the RAF is valiantly fending off the Luftwaffe in the Battle of Britain, and London is enduring heavy bombing in the opening weeks of the Blitz. One surprising fact about the Blitz is that the looting of damaged buildings and areas was rampant. Looters, RAF pilots, Russian crooks and spies and many other interesting period characters feature in this book.
I very much enjoy mixing real historical figures with the fictional characters in my cast. In Princes Gate I have Joseph Kennedy, Cordell Hull (Roosevelt's Secretary of State) and various British cabinet ministers. In Stalin's Gold I have been a little more ambitious including, amongst others, Stalin, Beria, Churchill and the King and Queen. I have not attempted any revisionist views of these characters and their portrayal is based very much on the generally accepted historical perception of them. Some have walk-on parts while others are more integral to the plots. I love adding them to the mix and will continue to do so in Frank Merlin 3, which will be set in Spring 1941.
Mark Ellis is a Welsh thriller writer from Swansea and is a former barrister and entrepreneur. He is the creator of Frank Merlin, an Anglo-Spanish police detective operating in World War 2 London. Princes Gate(Frank Merlin 1) was published in 2011 and Stalin's Gold(Frank Merlin 2) is being published on March 1 2014.
His author website is at http://markellisauthor.com