Source- Review copy
Publisher- Pan Macmillan
Publication date- 22 May 2012
Synopsis- It’s January 1943. Australia is at war and Perth is buzzing.
US troops have permanently docked in the city in what local men refer to bitterly as the American occupation, and Perth women are having the time of their lives. The Americans have money, accents like movie stars, smart tailored uniforms and good manners. What’s more, they love to dance and show a girl a good time, and young women are throwing caution to the wind and pushing social boundaries with their behaviour.
Not Meg Eaton, however. The war has brought her nothing but heartbreak, stealing her young love eighteen months ago. Until, in the middle of a Perth heat-wave, she meets her lost lover’s brother, Tom – standing over a dead body in her neighbour’s backyard.
Suddenly, Meg finds herself embroiled in the murder mystery, and increasingly involved with Tom Lagrange. But is he all that he seems? And what exactly was his relationship with the dead woman?
Debut author Deborah Burrows has brought her skills as a historian to the fore with this meticulously researched and thoroughly entertaining novel of love and intrigue.
Review- Love, suspense and an intriguing murder mystery set in 1943 in Australia. A Stranger in My Street was an unexpected treat- a novel set in Perth during the time when Australian troops were being enlisted for World War II. The protagonist, Meg Eaton is grieving the loss of her lover, Peter Lagrange who died eighteen months prior. Life looks bleak and Meg loses herself in her mundane life, refusing to date or socialise with the troops because she can’t imagine loving anyone the way she loved Peter.
But when she encounters a handsome stranger on her street, an Australian troop who bears the same surname as Peter, her fear and curiosity draw her in. She meets the mysteriously charming, Tom Lagrange- Peter’s older brother.
During an unexpected meeting, they stumble across the dead body of neighbour, Doreen Luca who has quite a reputation for frolicking with the American troops while her husband Frank is away. They become involved in the investigation of her murder, with Meg and Tom doing their own amateur sleuthing to uncover the truth of her death. Meg questions Tom’s relationship with Doreen and wonders whether she can trust him as it becomes clear he is hiding something from her.
Tom and Meg develop a friendship based on one commonality, their love for Peter. They develop an emotional bond that brings Meg out of her grief-stricken state and back to interacting with the world through dancing, dating and D&M’s with handsome Tom. Their friendship is characterised by an obvious attraction and an intellectual connection however Tom is engaged to be married to a beautiful Perth socialite.
Meg was an intriguing character who I quite liked and Tom was also likeable despite his arrogance and the uncertainty the author creates around his role in Doreen’s life. The author fleshed out Tom’s character really well and I quite enjoyed reading about the more vulnerable side to Tom and the internal conflicts he faced post-war. The relationship development was well-paced and believable.
Burrows has skilfully entwined her historian attributes to a well-researched novel based in Australia during the war. She explores issues pertaining to culture, racism, social class and the status of women in society while providing a suspenseful murder mystery and love story. A highly engaging debut by Australian author, Deborah Burrows.
About the author: I’m a lawyer, and a writer and a historian (not necessarily in that order!). Lately I’ve merged the last two into a novel set in World War 2 in Perth, Western Australia: A STRANGER IN MY STREET, published by Pan Macmillan Australia. It will be in stores on 22 May 2012. I’m married to Toby and I live in a 1930s house with a huge garden. I specialise in the area of medical law. I also have several degrees in history including a post-graduate degree in medical history from the University of Oxford, where my dissertation was “Science in the Witness Box: Expert Medical Testimony in criminal poisoning trials in England 1800-1860” (bringing together my interest in crime, history, medicine and the legal process).
This book was read as part of the AWW2012 challenge: