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Stratton's War

(DI Ted Stratton #1)

3.49  ·  Rating details ·  437 ratings  ·  77 reviews
London, June 1940. When the body of silent screen star Mabel Morgan is found impaled on railings in Fitzrovia, the coroner rules her death as suicide, but DI Ted Stratton of the CID is not convinced. Despite opposition from his superiors, he starts asking questions, and it becomes clear that Morgan's fatal fall from a high window may have been the work of one of Soho's mos ...more
Kindle Edition, 464 pages
Published August 27th 2009 by Orion (first published January 1st 2008)
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Average rating 3.49  · 
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 ·  437 ratings  ·  77 reviews

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This book probably would have played out much better if Wilson had stuck with the murder (or is it?) mystery with Stratton as its central character. Unfortunately, there's also the story of Diane (Diana? I don't really care, though I was just reading this yesterday), a married socialite-turned-sort-of-spy, who's trying to get information on I don't care what.

I don't know how these stories are supposed to intersect, because 150-plus pages in, the two main characters haven't met and their plots se
Rob Kitchin
Stratton’s War is part of the burgeoning number of crime novels using the Second World War as its backdrop. The intersection here of MI5, police and London underworld makes for an interesting story, and the double, intersecting plot lines of Ted Stratton and Diana Calthrop is for the most part well constructed. Wilson has managed to capture the class divisions and social order of London, and the sensibilities and lives of those working and living in the city. The book recreates the tense, claust ...more
Apr 30, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Those who enjoy English books set during WWII.
"The Innocent Spy" by Laura Wilson takes place in London, England in the early part of WWII (while America is still trying to decide if they will join the Allies). The stories of Ted Stratton, police detective, and Diana Calthrop, upper class socialite who decides to join the war effort as a spy alternate throughout the opening chapters without seeming to overlap at all. Meanwhile, Wilson sets a convincing atmosphere of terrifying nightly bomb raids while the citizens huddle in shelters and hope ...more
Nelda Pearson
Aug 22, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a good complicated read. Two life plots intertwine and its more than half the novel beforethe two key characters Diana Calthrop and Ted Stratton come together. Diana, terribly unhappily married and very young, goes to work for the War Dept during WWII and ends up in MI5--hence the title of the novel. DI Ted Stratton,the key character and core of the series, is suspicious of the suicide of a former silent screen star beauty. The plot combines the spy novel of LeCarre and the psychological ...more
Mar 15, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This is a fat book that would've been much better as a thin one. The novel is called "Stratton's War", and I wish the author had told the whole story from Stratton's point of view, uncovering everything in the course of his investigations. However she chose to tell Diana's story in parallel and that spoiled the book for me - because I simply didn't find Diana believable.

Diana is working at MI5 and meets a devastatingly handsome charmer, Claude. She's warned that he's a womanizer and probably a
Aug 07, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: historical fiction fans who enjoy mysteries and spy novels
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Feb 12, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery-suspense
title read by me was Stratton's War. this would have been a much better read at 300 rather than 450 pages. way too wordy though the description of London during WWII is well-done. ...more
Jul 31, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I picked this up as a used book at a new independent (yes!) bookstore near me. Hardcover exlib for 25 cents. Then to make it even better, it is a really good book, mashing WWII England, police procedural, romance and despair, MI5, class differences, family drama—well, that makes it sound messy but it isn’t at all. It’s just thick in a very pleasing way. Of course, this means now I have another author to follow up on. This is an old book—1964–and she has four more listed so I hope to find a trove ...more
Jul 17, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
very twisty - but compelling read
Sep 05, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2009-reads
SETTING: London in 1940
SERIES: 1 of 2

London in 1940 is a city under siege. Every night, the residents must seek protection from the bombing raids of the enemy. Although the average person's life is very much centered around surviving the Blitz, there is one area that has not changed. In spite of the war, crime has not taken a vacation. And Detective Inspector Ted Stratton is very convinced that a crime has taken place when he investigates the death of silen
Jul 02, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crime, review-books
STRATTON'S WAR is the first in an new planned series of crime novels featuring Ted Stratton, a Detective Inspector in the London police during the Second World War. This book includes a second protagonist - Diana Calthorp, young, socialite, not long and unhappily married and unexpected MI5 agent, involved in a covert operation against sympathisers and spies in the local community.

It's a very elaborate, multi-layered story. The death of a silent film star who hasn't worked for many years is the
Lizzie Hayes
Sep 01, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
‘Stratton’s War’ by Laura Wilson
Published by Orion. February 2008.
ISBN 978-0-7528 7623-8 (Hardback) 978-0-7528-7624-5 (Trade Paperback)

DI Ted Stratton is a policeman working in central London in 1940. He is married to Jenny and their two children who have been sent out of London for safety. His home life is happy, apart from the constant entreaties from his wife, which he is beginning to dread, to bring back the children from the country as she misses them. His extended family leave something
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jan Edwards
Jun 03, 2016 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Ian Mapp
Or should it be called Calthorpe's war.

Interesting tale, with a good sense of place and time and nice characterisation. Let down by an outrageous piece of co-incidence.

Sratton is a central london detective in the 1940 london. A land of the blitz, moral posters, black marketing and cockney geezers.

A silent movie actress is found on the railings outside her fizgrovia flat and it peaks his interest.

In alternating chapters, we are introduced to Diana Calthorpe. She works for the secret service and i
Shawn Davis
Nov 06, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Set during the London Blitz, DI Ted Stratton is investing the death of silent film star Mabel Morgan. On the surface an obvious suicide, Stratton can't shake the gut feeling that there is more to her death than it initially seems.

At the same time, upperclass Diana Calthrop finds herself digging deeper into the intrigue of wartime MI5 as she retreats from her unhappy marriage.

Although they don't know each other, their cases are intricately intertwined in a tangle of espionage, multiple murder, hi
Sep 24, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: top-books-2009
I'm glad I got this one in during 2009. It has moved directly to the top of my best reads. I will have to track down the rest of Laura Wilson's books.
DI Ted Stratton is in charge of the investigation into the death of Mabel Morgan, former silent screen star. The coroner quickly rules it a suicide even though Stratton is not certain about the veracity of the ruling. Meanwhile, Diana Calthrop, high society lady, begins a job in MI5 that quickly turns deadly. The path between these two disparate pe
Laura Wilson in a foreword talks about how she didn't want to get stuck with a main character that she eventually gets to hate. She says some authors say I wish I knew he/she were going to stay around because I wouldn't have made him so tall, short, annoying etc. With Ted Stratton she doesn't have to worry about annoying characteristics because he's so nice and normal he's bland. I did like him and I'll carry on with the Ted Stratton books to see what happens but there's no burning need to turn ...more
Jul 25, 2013 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Very disappointed in this book. It was 200 pages too long. I thought from the awards it received and the synopsis of the book that it would be a great read. Way too detailed about things that had no bearing on the case. The ending left u guessing and never wrapped the mystery up. Diana's affair is pathetic and her reappearing husband is not relevant to anything. Stratton is happily married, but author yoyo's back and forth on that relationship for no reason. As this murder combined a local polic ...more
I've loved this series but I did it all out of order, unintentionally though. This was my last read and I enjoyed it. As usual a gripping plot with sub plots and a real sense of the time plus an explanation for some incidences that come along in the later books.

My only quibble is the naivety of Diane, I thought she was so gullible and had no back bone. I don't know if she would have been recruited into the secret service as she wasn't made of "sterner stuff". I always imagined that the women who
Oct 19, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was quite entertaining largely due to the world war 2 London setting and the character of Chief Inspector who is a straight down the line man who is happily married and not an alcoholic nor depressed .
The writer moves easily between the various settings of the criminal underworld , the film business , high level government mostly led by homisexuals . right wing pro Hitler gatherings , the cop shop and the domestic life of CI Stratton fluidly and the strands of all these elements are well h
Nancy Seaman
Feb 16, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book does not settle well into one genre. The title says spy. The cover says police procedural. A cover quote says murder mystery. It is set early in the second world war in Britain. There are British who admire Hitler and British who do not. There is an American who wants America to stay out of the war. There is a policeman who just wants justice for a murdered woman. Then there is Diana, a recently recruited spy, who is in over her head, both in the spy work and in her family. It felt rea ...more
Mar 12, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed this book - a cross between a murder mystery and espionage thriller. The characters rang very true for me, fitting nicely with what I know about WWII London (which only comes from other books and movies). The relationship of Ted Stratton and his wife was central to the book and I found it a very believable and moving portrait of a marriage. I did find the ending a little disappointing in that I wanted it to resolve more like a mystery where the good guys prosper and the bad ones ...more
Susan Brown
I started this book because of the time and place (London in the second world war), hoping for a cozy detective read, and this is indeed how it started out. But then MI5 entered the plot and for me the whole story became convoluted and plodding, not to say confusing. It seemed the author could not decide between a cozy and a spy novel, and in this case the two did not mix well. I did like the protagonist and his relationship with his wife, Jenny. They were a close, demonstrative couple - rare in ...more
Marilyn Lagier
Three stars instead of four because I did like it--but not really liked it. If there was a 3 & 1/2 stars, that would be better. Very interesting spy novel: murder, murder, more murder. Lots of British-speak, tea drinking, intrigue all taking place during the bombing of Britain in WWII. If there is a DI Ted STratton #2, I think I actually might read it simply because I like the character--he's no nonsense, humble, and even though I'm fond of reading the end of novels once I've gotten about a thir ...more
Amy Paget
Jun 13, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A wonderful debut mystery. Laura Wilson should know of what she writes, as the crime fiction reviewer for the Guardian newspaper. Set in 1940s war-torn London, we are introduced to Detective Ted Stratton as he investigates the gruesome murder of film star Mabel Morgan -- then then becomes enmeshed in right wing intrigue. Stratton and his milieu are wonderfully well drawn. The author does not do as well in depicting the upper class world into which Stratton is thrown. I am eagerly awaiting the se ...more
Really a 2 1/2 from me - although I would have given it a 3 until it ended way too abruptly and predictably. This mystery involves Stratton, a detective working his "beat" during London in WWII, and Diana, a spy (although her role is never quite believable). I enjoyed the interweaving of the two worlds, but I was hoping to be surprised by the villain. Alas, I was not rewarded. The denouement was rushed and I couldn't quite buy Diana's role. Stratton's character, however, was the best thing in th ...more
Nov 14, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I don't know if I hyped it or not, but I wasn't as excited about this book as I thought I was going to be. This book had three components that I love Historical Fiction, the UK and mystery, yet I didn't find myself connected to any of the characters as I thought I would be. They were almost lacking and I found myself simply wanting to "get through the book." What a let down!! I am not even sure if I would continue on with the series. The one thing I did find fascinating was how the author wove i ...more
A somewhat plodding police procedural with great characters. Ted Stratton, working class copper and Diana Calthorp, glacial misguided debutante, brought together by espionage and crime in London 1940. The Blitz details sharpen the sense of doom and dread. I'm not sure whether the book has overtones of anti-semitism and homophobia or is commenting on the existence of such in that world. Certainly Miller draws the class-based distinctions vividly. ...more
Jan 17, 2010 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Picked from new item shelf, not read yet, and had to return w/ late fees. arrg

this outstanding first in a series set during WWII. In the summer of 1940, Det. Insp. Ted Stratton investigates an apparent suicide that leads him into a maze of brutal gang violence and bland official evasion. Meanwhile, icily beautiful upper-crust Diana Calthrop tries to escape a hateful marriage by devoting herself to MI5 intrigue.

on list 2009.10.05
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There is more than one author with this name

Laura Wilson is an English crime-writer based in London, where she was born and raised. She has degrees in English Literature form Somerville College, Oxford, and University College London, and has worked as a teacher and editor of non-fiction.

Many of her novels have either a historical setting or a distinct historical connection, and often have split or

Other books in the series

DI Ted Stratton (5 books)
  • An Empty Death (DI Ted Stratton, #2)
  • A Capital Crime (DI Ted Stratton, #3)
  • A Willing Victim  (DI Ted Stratton, #4)
  • The Riot  (DI Ted Stratton, #5)

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