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A Death in Bloomsbury, by David C. Dawson

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A Death in Bloomsbury, by David C. Dawson

Book Info

Book Series
The Simon Samson Mysteries, 01
About the Author
Men in love, men in jeopardy.

David C. Dawson is an award-winning writer of gay romance and page-turner thrillers with a gay theme.
His latest novel The Foreign Affair was published in October 2020.
His debut novel, The Necessary Deaths, won bronze for Best Mystery & Suspense in the FAPA chairman's award.
His second book in the Dominic Delingpole Mysteries series, The Deadly Lies, was published in 2017.
His first mystery romance For the Love of Luke was published in October 2018.
He lives in London with his boyfriend and ageing motorbike.

You can read his blog here: http://bit.ly/DavidCDawsonblog
In his spare time, David tours Europe on his ageing Triumph motorbike and sings with the London Gay Men’s Chorus.
Publication Date
November 10, 2021
Available Formats
Kindle, KU
Content Warning
 a country on the brink of WWII, murder, mild violence, homosexuality being illegal
Everyone has secrets… but some are fatal.

1932, London. Late one December night Simon Sampson stumbles across the body of a woman in an alleyway. Her death is linked to a plot by right-wing extremists to assassinate the King on Christmas Day. Simon resolves to do his patriotic duty and unmask the traitors.
But Simon Sampson lives a double life. Not only is he a highly respected BBC radio announcer, but he’s also a man who loves men, and as such must live a secret life. His investigation risks revealing his other life and with that imprisonment under Britain’s draconian homophobic laws of the time. He faces a stark choice: his loyalty to the King or his freedom.

This is the first in a new series from award-winning author David C. Dawson. A richly atmospheric novel set in the shadowy world of 1930s London, where secrets are commonplace, and no one is quite who they seem.

Editor review

1 review
Intriguing WhoDunIt
 3rd person, single character POV
 Themes: murder, crime, mystery, LGBT, romance, brink of war

 A Death in Bloomsbury is the first book in Dawson's new series: The Simon Sampson Mysteries. It centers around a BBC news announcer – previously The Chronicle's crime reporter – Simon Sampson, during 1932. The story precedes by almost a year WWII, but also touches upon the signs and hints that trouble is on its way from Germany, and Hitler.
 One night, he stumbles upon a woman in an alley, on the brink of death. While summoning a local constable, the woman mysteriously disappears, and thus begins the case Simon is determined to solve. Though, at first, by pushing the police to investigate, then by letting his natural curiosity take over, to begin investigating himself.

 There are three main storylines, though you wouldn't notice on reading it. The first is the crime aspect – investigating the murder/attack of this young woman, and following the clues to her killer. The second is Simon's daily life – dealing with the inadequate BBC higher-ups, and missing the thrill of his old job. The third storyline is Simon's hidden 'other' life as a gay man – in a time when being LGBT was illegal, punishable by a prison sentence and hard labour.

 The crime is well executed, cleverly arranged, and there are enough clues that we, as the reader, never feel completely clueless. But, neither do we see the full picture until Simon does.
 The daily life aspect is interesting, and littered throughout the investigation within Simon's thoughts. It's dealt with on the periphery, as Simon realises he misses the thrill and chase of a investigative story. How he deals with this, while solving the case, is well integrated into his personal thoughts, conversations, and his interactions with others.
 The 'other' life is also well explored, in the periphery. The story begins instantly with the crime being discovered, but when Simon is disbelieved by the constable – due to the missing body – he heads to his favourite pub and meets Cameron. A lovely, sweet, young man who happens to have a working life beneficial to Simon's investigation.
 Thus, all three begin to interweave throughout the rest of the story. Almost from page one – with Simon lamenting the unfulfilled promise of a dual position as investigator and announcer, meeting Cameron, and discovering the body – we're introduced to the three fundamental aspects of Simon's life and personality. He can't resist an investigation. He's a gay man, living a second 'other' life, due to the laws of the time. And, his job is lacklustre, making him seek adventure and more interesting work elsewhere.

 There's a lot I can't mention about the plot, as it's intricate, but cleverly done, and I wouldn't want to give away any spoilers. However, I loved Simon. He wasn't the cliché know-it-all PI, or the Jessica Fletcher who just-so-happens to have friends in all the convenient places. When Simon calls on an old friend, who happens to be in a position to know about crime/the investigation, that's naturally explained by his past as a crime reporter/investigator.
 The secondary cast were just as brilliant. Scotsman Cameron was smart, lovely, and sweet. He was a perfect counterbalance to Simon, as well as providing valuable leads. Bill, the female sidekick who dresses as a man, was brilliant in multiple ways. There was a strong LGBT undercurrent throughout, with Simon/Cameron being gay, and Bill (aka Florence) being a lesbian, and I loved how they openly discussed between them the complexities of living an 'other' life, as gay people in the time of the story.

 The romance is sweet, but neither a primary or secondary aspect of the plot. It's more in the background, with fade-to-black scenes mentioned in passing. Still, there's nicely explored chemistry and attraction between Simon and Cameron.

 The investigation itself was clever, realistically slow, with logical sources, smart clues and misheard information. I loved how every character contributed something – Simon, Bill, Cameron, and even some minor characters who were able to offer influence, information, or even assistance without even being on page, in some cases. The end revelations and surprises were well written and took me by surprise. The way Bill and Cameron ended the book were both surprising, but offered intrigue for how the rest of the series will proceed. There are so many possibilities, for what might happen next.


 Favourite Quote

 “He reached across and kissed Bill on the cheek. She brushed him away in a manner a young child would reject the attentions of an elderly aunt.
 “Stop it,” she said, although Simon thought he detected a note of tenderness in her voice. “One of us around here has to be sensible, or we'll both end up dead before Christmas.”
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