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Black Out (Inspector Troy #1)

3.65 of 5 stars 3.65  ·  rating details  ·  1,218 ratings  ·  161 reviews
In the tradition of John le Carré, Eric Ambler, and more recently, Joseph Kanon, Black Out is a stunning wartime thriller.
As the Luftwaffe makes its last, desperate assaults on the battered city in 1944, Londoners take to the underground shelters amidst the black out. Detective-Sergeant Troy starts with the clue of a neatly dismembered corpse leading him into a world of
Hardcover, 342 pages
Published May 1st 1995 by Viking Books
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(showing 1-30 of 2,586)
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Rob Kitchin
I found the first 100 pages or so of Bloack Out a little frustrating. The story kind of ambled along and exploited a whole series of coincidences that I found very convenient and unlikely. This is a big city, full of millions of people, and yet half a dozen principle connected characters coincide in time and space. Perhaps one, maybe two, coincidences would have been realistic. But several was unrealistic. In addition, Troy has remarkable luck – for example he’s the only survivor of a bomb explo ...more
Steven Z.
I have been a fan of Alan Furst for years. His evocative approach to espionage and his character development made his World War II noirs exciting and hard to put down. Now, I have discovered another master of that genre, John Lawton. The first book in Lawton’s Frederick Troy series entitled BLACK OUT features the intrepid Frederick Troy and his cohorts in Scotland Yard and an amazing array of individuals, who live in London in February, 1944, and a number of them who will also turn up in Berlin ...more
Not really police procedural, not really espionage, not really thriller, not really realistic. Marred by caricatures with a bent for silly porny bits. Lawton is an American author who sets his novels in Britain. Curiously, his American characters are the least realistic and the most annoying.
Sold to me as "If you liked Foyle's War on PBS, you'll love Inspector Troy." At first I wasn't so sold, Troy was a bit prickly and hard to understand his motivations. However, once he started interacting with his peers, it all fell into place. The atmosphere is fantastic complete with bombed out neighborhoods that are rubble and air raids spent in the Underground shelters. In this war-time mystery, someone is killing refugees who are known communists. The clues are slim and the leads tenuously t ...more
Michael Klein
I wanted to like this book. I really wanted to like this book. I just couldn't do it. The blurb on the cover from Scott Turow says, "This fine noel repeatedly brings to mind Le Carre." I agree. I repeatedly thought to myself, "Lawton is no Le Carre."

Lawton writes himself into a corner with his mystery, and the only way out is to give us multiple endings. Which he does. I kept thinking, "enough already." Also, the female characters are barely two dimensional - though one's dialogue is enjoyable,
Author John Lawton is a new discovery for me, and I am delighted that I stumbled upon his book! Black Out, featuring protagonist Inspector Freddie Troy, is historical fiction, but even better, it is a murder mystery thriller set in WWII London. Inspector Troy is a perfect mix of Sherlock Holmesian analysis and the intuitive sleuthing of the John Le Carre' Cold War spies, with British humor and upper class sensibilities mixed in.

Frederick Troy is the youngest son of Russian parents living in Eng
While Lawton effectively recreates the atmosphere of wartime London, the plot begs more questions than it answers. (view spoiler) ...more
More like 3.6 stars, but I really liked it. A gritty Lord Peter Whimsy with a badge.

Set in WW2 London, the story overflows with details of that time and place. I can only hope they are more correct than the smattering of details about America, because many of them are slightly off. It's a great mystery that we follow our protagonist through the solution to series of gruesome murders almost adding himself to the body count several times. The outcome feels rushed.

Speaking of feeling, the whole thi
Margaret Sankey
Very much a dark version of Foyle's War, this is the start of a procedural series set in WWII London, with a cynical Scotland Yard inspector tired of being sneered at for being in a reserved occupation, especially when looters, murderers and dangerous internal threats remain at large in the bombed out streets. Lawton strikes a good balance of stiff upper lip and naked opportunism.
This is the first book in the Inspector Troy series, written in 1995. I looked for this book because I believe there is a cross-over to another series of historical and mystery fiction based around the second world war with many players,countries and politics involved (primarily Russia/communists; Germany Nazis, Jew, non-Nazi Germans; Britain, including communists). I thought the cross-over/link was to a lesser character in one of David Downing's later John Russell "station" books(to the America ...more
An entertaining read with a lot of intersting characters. The author's vocabulary is extensive, and I used my Nook's dictionary feature much more than I normally do. The ending seemed too abrupt. Plan on reading others in this series.
I started this book in a happily anticipatory state, looking forward to a good read about life and crime in wartime London. As I progressed I became more and more disappointed. The characters, so interesting at first, did not develop past first impressions; in fact they became flatter as they committed increasingly improbable actions without adequate explanation.

Some of the novel's key plot points were simply not credible. The protagonist, Scotland Yard Inspector Troy, is a member of England's m
Another author new to me that I like quite well. Detective Troy is a policeman now working for Scotland Yard who gets called in for a particularly gruesome murder case. It's set during the heavy German bombings of England during WW II. The atmosphere is rough anyway, food and basic necessities are not easy to come by, and you are always on alert to go to safety when the bombings happen and plenty don't make it. Lawton recreates the setting and atmosphere very well giving a picture of the problem ...more
This book is an interesting mix-it is a mystery/thriller/spy novel set in the bomb-ravaged setting of WW2 London. Black Out introduces Sgt. Fred Troy, a detective solving a series of vicious murders, with clues leading him on a complicated and twisted trail, also involving MI5. In addition to having a tough case to solve, Troy must cope with the day to day realities of wartime London- bombing raids, rations, and shortages of various kinds. It took a while to grasp the group of players in this we ...more
John Lawton's Inspector Troy novels seem to be racier versions of Alan Furst's suspense-filled explorations of the lives of spies in Eastern Europe before the Second World War (only Lawton's universe is a bit more chequered than Furst's so the bad guys are often - at least nominally - on the Allied side.) Black Out involves the discovery of a body in a bombed-out site in wartime London which leads to a tale of international intrigue, atomic spying and Troy's ending up in bed with at least two wo ...more
Edward Beavers
The 1st isn't always an easy start

Although only my 2nd Inspector Troy book. After reading Bluffing Mr. Churchill I was really looking forward to more Inspector Troy. So glad I hadn't read book 1 1st as it was a bit of a let down. Hope the others are more like Mr. Churchill.
Very different from the Maisie Dobbs series. Lawton doesn't spoon feed you the history or dated references. I prefer this style but was often confused. I learned about the white feather from Winspears' Birds of a Feather, but it was mentioned without an explanation here.

Unhappy single male detective. Now that I've started reading the Kurt Wallander series right after this, I'm not sure I really want to spend more time with this character type. I guess Maisie was the unhappy single female detect
A book that occupies that happy intersection, for me at least, between crime novels and WWII history. I try not to think about what this says about me. Anyway our hero a young policemne is tasked with solving a series of grisly murders while each night the bombs murder hundreds more. The book beats strongest when it brings London under the blitz to life. It gets rather convuluted in the end and perhaps the plot does not bear much thought but it is all rather fun and yet again i found myself comp ...more
I was beginning to wonder about this novel, some of the ideas seemed a bit too modern for something set during the 2nd world war in London. And then suddenly, during an unnecessary sex scene (ok, maybe the sex had to happen, that seems to fit the narrative but the scene didn't need to make it on the page) that was totally ridiculous (mayonnaise? really?)

And then another sex scene hot on its heels - when suddenly the c-word turned up.

I'm not a prude, I've read 50 shades and worse, and if it's th
Carey Combe
I enjoyed this book, although I thought it got ridiculous when the main character suddenly changed from a reasoned, intelligent person to a ridiculous man being entirely led by his prick - might happen in real life but didn't ring true here! Good evocation of a London during wartime, although I felt it was slightly too ambitious, starting as a routine police procedure to become an international cold war spy thriller.
The time is London in Feb. 1944, as the Third Reich’s aerial blitz of England is resumed prior to the Normandy landings. This is the first “Inspector Troy” thriller--at least, in order of publication. (Lawton is prone to prequels and jumping back and forth in his protagonist’s career and personal history).

BLACK OUT is my first full-length encounter with Frederick Troy of Scotland Yard, after a very brief cameo appearance he did in the wonderfully titled THEN WE TAKE BERLIN. Troy is dark-minded,
I wanted so much to like this: I love the setting (London), the period (World War 2), and the genre (mystery / suspense). Unfortunately, this one just didn't quite measure up. The period details are good. The geography is almost as if the author wrote the book looking at a map (which is good, to a certain extent, but by the time you read 'he went up such and such and then down such and such and then took the Jubilee line to the...' for the fifth time, it's tiresome).

Three main complaints that ke
Now that I've read the first written in the series, I can see how Lawton's writing improved by the time he got to Second Violin. I also can see the things that haven't changed, and by reading a second book so quickly after the first, the types of things one tolerates in some detective authors if the tale moves along and with interest. The flaws: Troy comes across a little more "James Bond" in this first book, where he survives situations that seem to be impossible, and the few women in the book ...more
I liked the idea behind this book more than I liked the actual book. It was pretty dragged out and it jumped around quite a bit. There were a lot of under-developed secondary characters that were hard to keep straight. The actual main character was kind of hard to like, especially as the story progressed. The author also seemed to build up his nerve with each of his main character's not-so-romantic encounters with the opposite sex, starting with scenes that faded away to the next morning in the ...more
There are wonderful descriptions of London during The Blitz and of the events leading up to D-Day. There are great characters - the unbelievably indestructible little London policeman Troy (I lost count of how many times he got shot, stabbed, beaten and blown up), his boss Onions and his partner Wildeve, Kolankiewicz the wonderfully obscene Polish pathologist, the extended Troy family and two memorable women - the formidable Larissa Tosca and the mad bitch Diana Brack.

The wartime history stuff -
In general an interesting WWII mystery set primarily in London in 1944 and featuring Sergeant Troy, a very determined police officer of Russian parents for whom the quest of justice is most important. There is an arm found in a bombed out building and this connects to several other murders with an American major as a prime suspect. Despite Troy's rather misanthropic ways he has time to have sex (a lot) with two of the suspects. The novel is longer than it needs to be and has a sort of coda set i ...more
Mark Wilson
Frederic Troy makes a fascinating and convincing protagonist in this mystery set during and after WWII. I actually started with Flesh Wound, but quickly realized that although I was greatly enjoying it, it was part of a series, and NOT the first entry! Actually, it was number 5 in this series, so I immediately went back to find the first volume, Black Out. Spies, murders, clever deductions and brutal beatings, war and family, soldiers and refugees - it's all there in this novel, and I can't wait ...more
Becky Motew
I guess the title refers more to Sergeant Troy blacking out from constantly being pummeled rather than the war blackout. My mother used to watch all the TV detective shows and once said, "if anybody got hit in the head as much as Mannix, he'd be a moron."

I know this is a different era from Mannix, but I think her words are apt.

Also I never really got the plot. Why were these men killed? They were brought out of Europe at great cost and risk, and then killed?

I really liked Lawton's other book The
A frustrating book. A story needs to be credible and this is not one that you walk away with a aha moment.

Inspector Troy is a Sherlock Holmes type at Scotland Yard. The war is on, the Yanks are in London and various bodies are appearing where the link is an elusive American Major who is in the OSS.

Troy has great deductive skills but appears to be unable to keep his pants on, and when his pants are off he misses the fact that his two lovers are (a) the murderer he seeks and (b) a Russian spy.
Fair warning, I quit this book halfway through. For the following reasons:

(view spoiler)
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Mystery Lovers!: John Lawton's 'Inspector Troy' series 1 4 May 24, 2015 01:20PM  
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John Lawton is a producer/director in television who has spent much of his time interpreting the USA to the English, and occasionally vice versa. He has worked with Gore Vidal, Neil Simon, Scott Turow, Noam Chomsky, Fay Weldon, Harold Pinter and Kathy Acker. He thinks he may well be the only TV director ever to be named in a Parliamentary Bill in the British House of Lords as an offender against t ...more
More about John Lawton...

Other Books in the Series

Inspector Troy (7 books)
  • Old Flames (Inspector Troy, #2)
  • A Little White Death (Inspector Troy, #3)
  • Bluffing Mr. Churchill (Inspector Troy, #4)
  • Flesh Wounds (Inspector Troy, #5)
  • Second Violin (Inspector Troy, #6)
  • A Lily of the Field (Inspector Troy, #7)
A Lily of the Field (Inspector Troy, #7) Old Flames (Inspector Troy, #2) Then We Take Berlin Second Violin (Inspector Troy, #6) Bluffing Mr. Churchill (Inspector Troy, #4)

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