I am delighted to be a part of the blog tour for; The Automobile Assassination by MJ. Porter, I love the sound of this book it looks so good and I can’t wait to share it with you all. Plus I am thrilled to welcome MJ to the blog to share an exclusive guest post (which is fabulous) THE AUTOMOBILE ASSASSINATION, RESEARCH, RESEARCH AND HAPPENSTANCE. Go on take a look!
The Automobile Assassination
A 1940s mystery
Erdington, September 1944
As events in Europe begin to turn in favour of the Allies, Chief Inspector Mason of Erdington Police Station is once more prevailed upon to solve a seemingly impossible case.
Called to the local mortuary where a man’s body lies, shockingly bent double and lacking any form of identification, Mason and O’Rourke find themselves at Castle Bromwich aerodrome seeking answers that seem out of reach to them. The men and women of the royal air force stationed there are their prime suspects. Or are they? Was the man a spy, killed on the orders of some higher authority, or is the place his body was found irrelevant? And why do none of the men and women at the aerodrome recognise the dead man?
Mason, fearing a repeat of the cold case that dogged his career for two decades and that he’s only just solved, is determined to do all he can to uncover the identity of the dead man, and to find out why he was killed and abandoned in such a bizarre way, even as Smythe demands he spends his time solving the counterfeiting case that is leaving local shopkeepers out of pocket.
Join Mason and O’Rourke as they once more attempt to solve the impossible in 1940s Erdington.
Purchase Link – https://books2read.com/TheAutomobileAssassination
The Automobile Assassination, research, research and happenstance
Thank you for hosting The Automobile Assassination on your blog today.
When I decided to write another book featuring Detective Inspector Mason and his Sergeant, O’Rourke, I was determined to set the story very firmly in the period. That might sound a bit strange, but sometimes, a historical mystery might not feel that historical other than for the odd touches – clothing, hairstyles etc. To ensure I didn’t do this, I spent a great deal of time researching the history of The Automobile Association (a UK-based roadside recovery service with a history as long as automobiles) and how they might have operated in the early 1940s. Of course, with the war on and petrol rationing, it was very challenging for them to survive as they relied on subscriptions which dropped significantly during the war years.
I spent a great deal of time trying to find the locations for the sentry boxes that are so important to my story and that the AA patrol staff would have passed on their assigned patrol routes, often on pedal bikes. Yes, they did have telephones in the boxes, but of course, the patrol men wouldn’t have had access to a telephone while they were out patrolling, and if I’ve read it correctly, all calls were sent to a central exchange which was in London. There’s a list of surviving sentry boxes from the 1960s, so twenty years after my story is set, and with the use of a map from the 1940s (thank you online marketplace), I found many of the sentry boxes close to Erdington. This was before some of today’s roads weren’t built (such as many of the A roads), and using a period map ensured I didn’t put something where it couldn’t have existed. I love using old maps for all of my books (20th-century and Saxon stories). They often highlight facts that might pass today’s reader by – such as roads that have changed route or weren’t even in existence at the time.
I was a bit disappointed because I couldn’t find a map that showed the patrol routes that the AA patrolmen (sorry, it was all men at this time) would have followed on their daily routes. This is potentially because such maps were either not produced or, because of the war effort, they weren’t widely distributed. Here’s a fabulous training video for those wanting to see what the early AA was all about.
I also needed clarification on how far a car might have travelled on one full petrol tank. Sometimes it’s the oddest queries that set authors tumbling down rabbit holes of research.
But the roads weren’t the only thing I needed to research. Much of the case in The Automobile Assassination hinges on fingerprints (how else to identify my nameless murder victim?), and I knew nothing about the technological advances that had made fingerprint identification as prevalent as it is today. I invested some time in researching and discovered some amazing facts, some that were quite disturbing during the advances in fingerprinting and the way the information they use is provided. I also, quite by chance, discovered when the first fax machine was invented, which was much earlier than we might think.
And that then took me to another element of the book that I needed to research, ration books. Again, the advantage of writing about the 1940s is that artefacts survive from the period. I was able to get hold of some ration books (thank you, online marketplace) so that I could work out how they were distributed and used and how I could make what was happening seem ‘very real.’ What surprised me was that the coupons themselves didn’t have numbers (and certainly not bar codes), although each book had a serial number stamped on its front. I discovered the system would be particularly easy to ‘fudge’ if you inclined that way. And there were huge scandals regarding ration books during the 1940s. As with the AA sentry boxes, I was determined to weave these elements into the storyline.
The more I write stories set in the twentieth century, the more resources I find to help me. I made a great deal of use of the online newspaper archives – and hidden, often on the front or the back page, were all the times that the Blackout was in operation each night. This was an excellent little detail to weave into the narrative to make it seem more historically accurate.
(The copyright for images belongs the author; MJ Porter)
MJ Porter is the author of many historical novels set predominantly in Seventh to Eleventh-Century England, as well as three twentieth-century mysteries. Raised in the shadow of a building that was believed to house the bones of long-dead Kings of Mercia, meant that the author’s writing destiny was set.
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Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.co.uk/MJ-Porter/e/B006N8K6X4/