Book Review: Murder on the Home Front by Molly Lefebure

Murder on the Home Front (click book for more information)
By Molly Lefebure
Released 4/1/14
Provided free through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review

Rating: 3 bones

Finish time: too long.  I know I’ve been saying that too much.  This week for good reason, our house is under contract and we finally get to make some moving plans.  But unfortunately this book, as strong as it started, just didn’t hold me through to the end.

A little background is that this is a re-print of the original book published in 1955 titled Evidence for the Crown.  The book is a collection of true stories (of morgues, murderers, and mysteries) from the author, Molly Lefebure, aka Miss Molly (I’ll admit one of the reasons I was drawn to the book) aka Molly of the morgue aka Miss L.  Miss Molly served as secretary to forensic pathologist Dr. Keith Simpson for five years during the London Blitz.  Not your typical secretarial job, Molly was Dr. Simpson’s right hand gal for all of his p.m.’s (post-mortems) which included being up close and personal with the dead, day in day out.  A job most were intrigued with, but most wouldn’t be able to handle, let alone a woman in that time period.  But personally fascinated with the subject, Molly excelled at her job and even kept a detailed journal, from which this book is derived.

It started out strong, but then I felt like it was just more of the same.  Almost like watching 30 Law & Order episodes back-to-back-to-back.  Nothing to break up the constant death and devastation.  Not that this was a shock, but I personally would have liked more personal details thrown in, for instance from Molly’s home life.  At the end we find out some, but details throughout would have been a nice break.  While her voice is very clear and distinct throughout the book, we don’t know really know anything about the woman behind it.

It took the reader through wartime London from an insider’s view, probably not one that is looked at often, which was enjoyable, to the extent that I am glad to not have been a part of it.  Definitely well written with such vivid details, but more a collection of stories, versus a story that I was drawn into and couldn’t wait to pick up each night.  But one I learned from and glad I read.

It looks like Miss Molly just passed away last April, so I’m guessing maybe this “new release” was a tribute to her death.  Here are a few interesting articles if you care to learn more about her and her book:

Death Became Her: Molly Lefebure’s Wartime Years of Murder and Suicide
Molly’s Biography

Description from Amazon:

It is 1941. While the “war of chaos” rages in the skies above London, an unending fight against violence, murder and the criminal underworld continues on the streets below.

One ordinary day, in an ordinary courtroom, forensic pathologist Dr. Keith Simpson asks a keen young journalist to be his secretary. Although the “horrors of secretarial work” don’t appeal to Molly Lefebure, she’s intrigued to know exactly what goes on behind a mortuary door.

Capable and curious, “Miss Molly” quickly becomes indispensible to Dr. Simpson as he meticulously pursues the truth. Accompanying him from somber morgues to London’s most gruesome crime scenes, Molly observes and assists as he uncovers the dark secrets that all murder victims keep.

With a sharp sense of humor and a rebellious spirit, Molly tells her own remarkable true story here with warmth and wit, painting a vivid portrait of wartime London.

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