Black Out (Inspector Troy, #1)
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Black Out (Inspector Troy #1)

3.61 of 5 stars 3.61  ·  rating details  ·  688 ratings  ·  112 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, 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 stateless...more
Paperback, 416 pages
Published December 31st 2002 by Penguin Books (first published March 1st 1995)
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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
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,...more
Pamela
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.
Ron
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...more
Vontel
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
Pam
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
Paul
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...more
Vicki
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...more
Bibliophile
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
Jessie
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...more
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.
Jennifer
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
Old_airman
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.
Monica
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 -...more
Calzean
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.
Joyce
Fair warning, I quit this book halfway through. For the following reasons:

(view spoiler)...more
Elli
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
Laurel
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
Matt Rohweder
Normally, I am all about World War II spy thrillers, so when I saw this book at my library and realized it was a murder mystery (my other favorite genre) that incorporated WWII, spies, and espionage, I knew I would love it. I am sad to report that I did not.

I found many of the ideas and events rather contrived...I mean, yes there is a Blitz on, but how many convenient bombs can get dropped on the main character in 340 pages? I believed the first one...but then the second and then the THIRD, tha...more
Manray9
While Lawton effectively recreates the atmosphere of wartime London, the plot begs more questions than it answers. Troy didn't know he was fighting a woman in the dark alley? What was Lady Diana's motivation? Was she simply unable to resist the Svengali-like Wayne? Was she insane? Why were the boffins killed -- because they were Communists who wouldn't help with the war effort or because they were Communists who went West to help with the war effort? Carroll's White Rabbit was a more believable...more
Christian Wilkie
This was an okay book. It's good enough to have kept me reading, but it didn't evoke any strong emotions or elicit a significant enough response that might cause me to recommend it to anyone. It's a rambling story about a bull-headed English investigator trying to solve a mysterious murder. Confounding him are London's uncouth street youth, the unspeakably rude American soldiers, and some violent explosions.

This book wasn't written for me. I'm not fascinated with WWII, and I lack a background in...more
Mark
A little bit murder mystery, a little bit spy novel. Both are genres I really enjoy, so I enjoyed the combination in this book. Lawton seemed to take a little from the noir style of Chandler, but kept it British (in my American opinion). I couldn't help but wonder if naming the MI-5 character Pym (the same name as the protagonist in Le Carre's A Perfect Spy) was a jab at one of my favorite spy novelists, or if there was some political statement in naming the socialite who seemed comfortable amon...more
Lawrence
John Lawton gives us an interesting detective in Sargeant Troy with a WWII London as a background, but the plot is hardly realistic.
Leland Seese
I found this to be a well-crafted, conventional espioage/murder mystery novel that held my interest to the end. However, when I finished it, I did not feel particularly excited about picking up the next book in the series.
The usual formula was there -- anti-authoritarian, driven protagonist falls into intrigue, romance, and a variety of physical and emotional wounds before getting his, in this case, woman and man. But the sexual escapades seemed mechanical and contrived, and the poor guy was b...more
Alistair
This book pulled me in with the description.
I am a sucker for books set in wartime UK.

If you are considering reading this book I warn you that the main character is, on the whole, quite unlikable.
His treatment of women,in particular, leaves a lot to be desired and the whole 'Schwarzenegger' way he survives everything suspends belief.
Also, the reaction to the deaths of people close to him is almost nonchalant.

There was one twist I did not see coming and that is maybe this book's saviour.

Finally,...more
Dave
If I had this as a book, I would never have finished it. I stop reading books if they don't grab me by page 50 or so. Instead, I downloaded it onto my e-reader and I find it easier to read and concentrate on the smaller page sizes. It was slow moving, tedious and boring and its ending was anti-climatic. The author tried to be smart with many, small things written in other languages (I find this frustrating. Not everyone knows French or German) and used many terms not in every day use, which had...more
Jane
Somewhere I read a rave review of the latest in this series so decided to begin with the first. The book jacket claims a similarity to Le Carre, and I agree with that assessment. I told my husband he'd enjoy the book because Troy, the main character, has two hot women pursuing him (simultaneously!) The descriptions of black-out war-time London are sometimes luscious , the relationship between Troy and his underlining in Scotland Yard is well developed, and the class differences which existed in...more
Suzanne Roach
Great murder mystery set in London during World War II. I enjoyed following the clues. Not too gory. Enjoyable read.
Dianne
This is the first in the series featuring Frederick Troy. Set in 1944 in blitzed out London, it is a more orthodox detective novel. An intuitive policeman, Troy is shown a hacked off arm found by some East End street urchins and their dog. He is not prepared to dismiss it as a piece of bomb detritus, and from this an intricate plot is developed. It is well worth reading as it places many characters from his other novels in context. While I enjoyed it, I don't think it is as good as his other boo...more
HBalikov
This is a combination thriller/whodunit. I give it a high rating, but with these cautions:
You must be willing to suspend your belief and set aside some or all of what you already "know" about London during WWII.
You may never be able to make a strong identification with Police Sergeant Frederick Troy.
You must not mind that Troy has more lives than a Manx Cat.
You have to have a tolerance for a high ratio of British style vs. substance.
You will not be able to figure this one out or follow some of t...more
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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...
A Lily of the Field (Inspector Troy, #7) Old Flames (Inspector Troy, #2) Second Violin (Inspector Troy, #6) A Little White Death (Inspector Troy, #3) Bluffing Mr. Churchill (Inspector Troy, #4)

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