Forests of the Night: A Johnny Hawke Novel

( 1 )


Forests of the Night introduces the intrepid John Hawke, an exciting new detective operating in London during the Blitz.

When World War II breaks out in London, young policeman John Hawke enlists in the army. His dreams of fighting for his country, however, are cut short after he loses an eye in rifle training. Invalided out of the army and offered a desk job with the ...
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Forests of the Night: A Johnny Hawke Novel

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Forests of the Night introduces the intrepid John Hawke, an exciting new detective operating in London during the Blitz.

When World War II breaks out in London, young policeman John Hawke enlists in the army. His dreams of fighting for his country, however, are cut short after he loses an eye in rifle training. Invalided out of the army and offered a desk job with the police, John sets up as a private investigator in London instead, hoping for excitement and danger.

In the autumn of 1940, John is engaged to investigate the mysterious death of a young woman. What is the connection between her brutal murder and the fading film actor Gordon Moore? Johnny also becomes involved in the plight of a runaway boy who may have witnessed something terrible.

Told with wit and humor, while evoking an atmospheric picture of the home front during the dark days of the Second World War, Forests of the Night is an impressive U.S. debut for David Stuart Davies.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Noted Sherlock Holmes expert Davies (Veiled Detective) launches a new series with this competent, if unspectacular whodunit set in WWII London and featuring Johnny Hawke, who has just started a new career as a PI after a misfiring gun cost him his left eye and a career in the army. His caseload is fairly run-of-the-mill until Eric and Freda Palfrey enlist him to trace their missing 27-year-old daughter, Pamela. Hawke soon finds that the plain, middle-class girl had been living a double life, and that her secret role as a high-class prostitute has led to her death, probably at the hands of one of her clients, one of whom is a prominent film star. With its decent atmospherics, this novel compares favorably to John Gardner's WWII Suzie Mountford series (Troubled Midnight, etc.), but Davies's workmanlike prose doesn't match that of Charles Todd's Ian Rutledge series or Jacqueline Winspear's Maisie Dobbs mysteries. (Jan.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Having been invalided out of the army after losing an eye in an accident, former policeman Johnny Hawke sets up shop as as a private investigator in 1940 London. He is asked to find a shy and unattractive young woman working for a legal firm. Hawke not only discovers that she is leading a double life (she moonlights as a highly paid call girl) but that she has been murdered. Featuring a likable detective who faces adversity without complaint and finds time to help people in need, Davies's nicely plotted debut mystery will have historical fans looking for its follow-up. Davies, a Sherlock Holmes expert and editor of the Crime Writers Association's magazine Red Herrings,lives in West Yorkshire, England. [Library marketing campaign planned.]

—Jo Ann Vicarel
Kirkus Reviews
A fledgling private detective in wartime London tries to save a wary urchin while solving an unsavory case. In 1939, an accident on the rifle range costs Johnny Hawke an eye and puts an abrupt end to his army career. With no prospects and a yearning for adventure, he opens Hawke Investigations. An intertwined first-person narrative follows a little boy named Peter as he runs away from his prostitute mother. Hawke takes him in, but the skittish boy empties Hawke's wallet and takes off in the middle of the night. Their paths cross several more times through Hawke's first big case, which he gets with the help of Scotland Yard pal David Llewellyn. The Palfreys, a colorless couple, want help finding their missing daughter, Pamela, who worked for solicitor Leo Epstein. Pictures show a plain and conservative young woman, but Epstein's typist, Eve Kendal, remembers Pamela as a beautiful and provocatively dressed girl with heavy makeup. Epstein slept with her, and she used her sexuality to gain a foothold in the lowest rungs of the movie business, at Renown Pictures. When Pamela is found stabbed to death, suspicion falls on her boyfriend, Samuel Fraser, but Hawke finds likelier suspects when he digs deeper into the girl's dangerous life. Sherlock Holmes expert Davies (The Veiled Detective, 2004, etc.) effectively captures the London of a later era in this taut page-turner.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780312360047
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press
  • Publication date: 1/9/2007
  • Series: Johnny Hawke Novels Series , #1
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Pages: 384
  • Product dimensions: 6.90 (w) x 5.00 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

David Stuart Davies is the former editor of the crime fiction magazine Sherlock and the author of several books on Sherlock Holmes. He is internationally recognized as an expert on Sherlock Holmes and Conan Doyle, and edits the Crime Writers’ Association’s monthly magazine Red Herrings. He lives in West Yorkshire, England. Visit his Web site at
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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted December 9, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    fine private investigation historical mystery

    In 1939, Johnny Hawke left the London police force to enlist with the military. However, with only a couple of months as a soldier, his military career ended on English soil at Aldershot during training Sergeant-Major Stock gave Johnny a rifle with an obstruction in the barrel that when the recruit fired it exploded in his face. He learns from Dr. Moorhouse at Aldershot General that the heat of the explosion destroyed his left eye. --- Stunned as he is discharged from the military and knowing his previous vocation is no longer available for a freak like Johnny One-Eye, he becomes a private investigator as a means of making a living. He handles boring minor cases until Eric and Freda Palfrey hire him to find their missing twenty-seven years old daughter, Pamela. Hawke soon uncover the truth about Pamela that her parents were unaware of she hid her high class prostitution business from her middle class family. Learning that leads Johnny to realize she was murdered probably by one of her customers. He begins to investigate the late Pamela¿s clientele to ascertain just who killed the high price prostitute. --- Though the case may seem somewhat minor especially with WW II in full heat, readers will appreciate the first Johnny Hawke private investigation mystery that brings to life England while the hostilities are in the air and on the continent. Johnny¿s inquiries enable the audience to obtain a feel for how mostly Londoners were coping during their ¿finest hour¿ that seemed so bleak. The whodunit is fun to follow, but takes a back seat to the world of 1940 England. --- Harriet Klausner

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