An Empty Death is the second mystery in Laura Wilson’s series featuring Detective Inspector Ted Stratton. This atmospheric book is set in London circa World War II, where Stratton and his wife Jenny are bearing up as well as possible after their children have been evacuated to the countryside. Wartime rations, nightly blackouts, and the constant presence of loss wear them down, but their relationship is a touchstone for both of them and provides them with the strength to help others: Jenny volunteering long hours for the Red Cross and Stratton as a detective.
When a shell falls on the home of a neighbor, Stratton assists in the excavation, and is startled to find her still breathing and seemingly unharmed. Jenny and her sister Doris are drawn into providing shelter for the woman, whose trauma soon proves to be invisible but extremely severe. Meanwhile, the killing of a local doctor is the first in a series at the hospital, and Stratton must piece together clues and untangle motivations to track the murderer.
With a sympathetic villain, a surprise twist, and a well-developed detective, this historical mystery looks to be part of a very promising series. The first book is The Innocent Spy, although An Empty Death can stand alone.