Molly Lefebure was a novelist and scholar on Samuel Taylor Coleridge; however, she earns her place on this web site with her memoirs of wartime experience as secretary to pathologist Dr. Keith Simpson investigating deaths for the police. Her style of writing is light, generally, though she does at time consider how people’s living through war and poverty brings them to act or die with brutality. At times, though, you might find her a bit too chipper over the deaths of other human beings, but perhaps that is how one survives seeing what she does. The book does make you realize how cruel and brutal life in “civilized” England could be, especially if you were poor, especially if you were a woman. Still, it is enjoyable to see her showing up those with expectations of her suffering from womanly weakness, and even more enjoyable to see those who recognize her verve and smarts from the start. I highly recommend this book to writers who are looking for background on writing wartime novels and want to see how police investigations worked then. Lefebure covers everything from the painstaking investigations of detectives to the assiduous travails of the pathologists with whom she worked to the finale in court. She has a wonderful talent for capturing the unique personalities of copper, criminal, and criminal scientist, as well. Her details of life from poverty and slums to middle-class and countryside life, all upended by the constant threat of blitz and doodlebugs (V1 and V2 rockets) give you a tangy feel for living through the war years in England.
There was also a BBC television series based on Lefebure’s book. Click here for more. I haven’t seen it yet, but when I do, I’ll have to include an entry in my list of contemporary series set during the golden era.
For more on Milly Lefebure and her fiction and nonfiction, check out her page on fantastic fiction. You should also read this great article from The Daily Beast: “Death Became Her.”
Image of Molly Lefebure from Archmusicman web site: http://archmusicman.blogspot.com/2013/03/molly-o-morgue-my-grandmother-lefebure.html