Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Murder on the Home Front - Review

Murder on the Home Front: A True Story of Morgues, Murderers and Mysteries during the London Blitz by Molly Lefebure

Rating: 4 Stars

Description:  In 1941 Molly Lefebure is a young journalist who gets the opportunity to be the secretary of pathologist Dr. Keith Simpson.  What follows in an adventure through London's morgues and an interesting peek into the forensics of 1940s.

Genre: Non-Fiction

My Impression:

Pros:  Lefebure covers a variety of topics in this book from all the different deaths and crime scenes she deals with to the different attitudes of her friends regarding her job.  All of this is written about with a very matter of fact attitude, a good dose of humor and a touch of pride that she as a woman is able to hold her own in a world where women are basically unknown.  You can basically see her raising her eyebrows when she talks about the difference in her female friends' attitude about her work when they are alone or when there are men about.  I had to laugh when talked about having to hit a group of medical students in the back of the knees with her typewriter because they wouldn't get out of her way.  While the subject matter itself is pretty gruesome it doesn't feel like reading a gruesome read.  Her attitude cuts down on the shock value.  Even when she's talking about carrying a severed hand out of the morgue in a glove bag she's not focusing on the severed hand but more the irony of walking down the street carrying some a gory item in such a pretty nondescript package.

Cons: While she is a journalist Lefebure doesn't come off as a particularly polished writer.  The first couple of chapters are a bit bumpy and there are some slow parts in the book but that is often the case with nonfiction.  Some of the attitudes towards crime are dated - in particular there is a lot of sympathy regarding a case about a man who had killed his fiancee because he thought her father would end their relationship.  The sympathy to a man who killed a woman because if he couldn't have her no one else could was jarring but this was a pretty small part of the book.

Overall: When I came across this title on Netgalley I couldn't press request fast enough and was absolutely thrilled when I was approved.  While the writing is somewhat rough at times and the pace can drag a little I thought this was a fascinating book.  While the subject manner wasn't particularly unique the time period and voice are.  Definitely a good read!

Would I Read More of this Series/Author?: Yes

Would I Recommend this Book?:  Yes


  1. You had me at "...London's morgues and an interesting peek into the forensics of 1940s." It's too bad about the writing--and I think I would be a little put off by the sympathy for the murderer you described too--but it sounds like a fascinating read, nonetheless.

    1. I definitely enjoyed it. The negatives were pretty small and the interesting topic definitely overshadowed them. I'm so with you - London, 1940s, forensics - I don't think I looked at more than the title before I requested this. How could I not?

  2. Despite the choppy begins, I do like the sound of the this.I love a good mystery and the forensics aspect excites me. *I know sick right?*

    1. The beginning's not awful it just takes her a bit to find her footing with telling the story. It's definitely worth the read! Not sick! Or if you are I am too! I think there was dancing involved when this request was approved!