A True Story of Morgues, Murderers, and Mysteries During the London Blitz


Knowing how much stories like this interest me, I was surprises I’d only learned of Molly Lefebure from a PBS show. In it, a spunky young reporter teams up with a forensic pathologist to solve crimes in war-torn London. And I was even more excited when I realized these exploits were real. And I’m very glad the publisher has chosen to reprint her book.

Though it hasn’t been all that long ago, the world was quite different. Having these first hand accounts gives a modern reader significant insight into life during the Blitz, and during the 1940s in general.

Forensic science was still fairly new and the technology to analyze was only in its adolescence. It required a patient eye, meticulous notes and even a bit of luck to catch a criminal. Molly Lefebure was a young reporter who interested in the crime beat. She was approached by a medical examiner who needed an assistant. She becomes more than just a stenographer. Lefebure shows herself to be a fearless examiner and an able theorist.

Molly Lefebure and Dr. Keith Simpson look for clues.

Lebefure’s book treats each case as a chapter. Some are involved cases while others are simply notes. Her writing is unpolished and a bit raw, but it makes it an exciting read. She is also adept recreating the mood of London during the Blitz.

Round and round the intricate maze of narrow elephant-gray streets we drove; the CID man as lost as we were, for her was new to the area. A melancholy landscape it was, of interminable dirty little brick houses whose sooty windows stared, achingly bored, at the fog already uncoiling in preparation for the night.  ~Loc. 464

And often, her remembrances are very humorous:

I tried saying, “Excuse me, please,” but nobody took the slightest notice, so then I punched one or two of them in the back, but they still ignored me, so finally I tried hitting them behind the knees with my typewriter and, in this unladylike fashion, fought my way through to the p.m. [post mortem] table which was the center of all the excitement. ~Loc. 326

We’re so lucky to have these stories and I highly recommend anyone interested in WWII history, women’s history, or just crime cracking check it out.

Read via NetGalley

Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Price: $14.00 US/$16.00 CAN
Pages: 288
Physical Dimensions: 5-1/4″ x 8″
ISBN-13: 9781455576067
On Sale Date: 04/01/2014