Hardcastle’s Frustration by Graham Ison

Hardcastle’s Frustration is the newest in a police procedural series that takes place in London during World War I.

Detective Hardcastle is a low tolerance type of man – he is very no-nonsense and gruff in his dealings with subordinates, and has little use for bureaucracy.  Suffice it to say that a dead body found floating in the Thames River within his precinct creates an extended chain of problems in which other governmental agencies become involved, much to Hardcastle’s dislike.

Identifying the deceased is the least of Hardcastle’s worries.  It turns out that the dead man had a wife who was decidedly unfaithful, and apparently he had an affair as well.

There is more afoot than a single dead man.  There is attempted industrial espionage, another woman of loose virtues with associations to potential spies, and an over the top actor from South Africa who has a chilling past.  

Include all this along with his domestic concerns for his family, and Hardcastle has a very full plate.  Should we say that he is not one to make it easy on those who work for him.  He has some serious lackeys in his department, and they get the full brunt of his boot.  He also has some winners on staff, including his loyal sidekick Charles Marriott, who knows Hardcastle’s idiosyncracies and how to work with them.

I think the best part of the book is how the author captures the  atmosphere – the tenseness and uncertainty that were in the air in London during the last year of the war, when people were obviously tired of the fighting and the bad news that followed. 

A helpful glossary is at the beginning for slang terms.

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