Bruce Allen Powe


"A solid historical whodunit with a great plot... The historical background is excellent, and Powe makes great use of his first-hand knowledge of the period and his extensive research into the events. A terrific novel, and not just for history buffs."
The Globe and Mail












 NeWest Press, 2004


Bruce Allen Powe, author of the much loved classic novel The Aberhart Summer, reaches back to his wartime experiences for this tale of murder set against a tapestry of scandal and chaos.

In July 1945, restless, war weary Canadian troops were stationed in Aldershot England, awaiting transport home to the Pacific front. Subsumed in boredom and longing, they watched newsreels that showed American soldiers getting first passage on troop ships. The Canadians went crazy and tore up the town.

Amid the turmoil, a Canadian army officer, Lt. Col. Ambrose Wellesley, is shot between the eyes while he is sitting at his desk. The last person to see him alive was the beautiful Claire Evans, his clerk and, secretly, his lover. Two detectives investigate the case: Tim Bollock, for Scotland Yard, and Canadian officer Hugh Horobbins.

The detectives delve into the complex life and dealings of Ambrose Wellesley, a charismatic rogue with a hideaway in London and a taste for fancy wines and fine clothes. Wellesley was high spirited and callous: he outfitted an ambulance as a mobile pleasure palace and brothel.

It is Wellesley, even in death, who commands our attention as the detectives uncover his ingenious and extensive black market trade in smuggled army supplies and medicines. There is a court martial - the murderer is sentenced to death - and a surprise ending.

On one level, the novel resembles a period piece Law and Order. But in his clear, authentic voice, Bruce Powe adds other dimensions. We meet the lonely soldiers who've fallen in love with local English women, only to be jilted when their husbands come home from overseas.

We feel the simmering rage, dislocation, disconnection, and violence which erupt in frustration. And there are strange alliances bred in alien soil.