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Charming and feisty Poppy Redfern stumbles into murder in this exciting new World War II historical mystery series from critically acclaimed author Tessa Arlen. Summer 1942. The world has been at war for three long and desperate years. In the remote English village of Little Buffenden, Poppy Redfern's family house and farmland has been requisitioned by the War Office as a Charming and feisty Poppy Redfern stumbles into murder in this exciting new World War II historical mystery series from critically acclaimed author Tessa Arlen. Summer 1942. The world has been at war for three long and desperate years. In the remote English village of Little Buffenden, Poppy Redfern's family house and farmland has been requisitioned by the War Office as a new airfield for the American Air Force. As the village's Air Raid Warden, Poppy spends her nights patrolling the village as she tries to ease her neighbors' fears about the "Friendly Invasion" and what it means to their quiet way of life. When two young, popular women who were dating American servicemen are found strangled, Poppy quickly realizes that her little town has been divided by murder. The mistrust and suspicion of their new American partners in war threatens to tear Little Buffenden apart. Poppy decides to start her own investigation with the help of a charismatic American pilot and she soon unearths some chilling secrets and long-held grudges. Poppy will have no choice but to lay a trap for a killer so perilously close to home, she might very well become the next victim....


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Charming and feisty Poppy Redfern stumbles into murder in this exciting new World War II historical mystery series from critically acclaimed author Tessa Arlen. Summer 1942. The world has been at war for three long and desperate years. In the remote English village of Little Buffenden, Poppy Redfern's family house and farmland has been requisitioned by the War Office as a Charming and feisty Poppy Redfern stumbles into murder in this exciting new World War II historical mystery series from critically acclaimed author Tessa Arlen. Summer 1942. The world has been at war for three long and desperate years. In the remote English village of Little Buffenden, Poppy Redfern's family house and farmland has been requisitioned by the War Office as a new airfield for the American Air Force. As the village's Air Raid Warden, Poppy spends her nights patrolling the village as she tries to ease her neighbors' fears about the "Friendly Invasion" and what it means to their quiet way of life. When two young, popular women who were dating American servicemen are found strangled, Poppy quickly realizes that her little town has been divided by murder. The mistrust and suspicion of their new American partners in war threatens to tear Little Buffenden apart. Poppy decides to start her own investigation with the help of a charismatic American pilot and she soon unearths some chilling secrets and long-held grudges. Poppy will have no choice but to lay a trap for a killer so perilously close to home, she might very well become the next victim....

30 review for Poppy Redfern and the Midnight Murders

  1. 4 out of 5

    Linda

    Move over, Nancy Drew. There's a young redhead attired with an Air Raid helmet and binoculars who's been blessed with plenty of spunk and attitude. Kinda finding a foothole in your territory, Girl. It's the Summer of 1942 and the small English village of Little Buffenden is preparing for air raids by the Germans with blackout curtains and practice routines guiding its inhabitants to underground safety. Poppy Redfern has been commissioned as the Air Raid Warden and she takes her role seriously. Wi Move over, Nancy Drew. There's a young redhead attired with an Air Raid helmet and binoculars who's been blessed with plenty of spunk and attitude. Kinda finding a foothole in your territory, Girl. It's the Summer of 1942 and the small English village of Little Buffenden is preparing for air raids by the Germans with blackout curtains and practice routines guiding its inhabitants to underground safety. Poppy Redfern has been commissioned as the Air Raid Warden and she takes her role seriously. With personal canine pet Bess in tow, Poppy makes her rounds each evening. Although hardly twenty, Poppy has shown responsibility every step of the way. Things have changed drastically in the village as the American Air Force is building a new airfield nearby and their presence at the local pubs and cafes is not always met with friendliness. Even moreso, the Americans have been dating young women in the village. Eyebrows have gone up on disapproving faces. The routines of day-to-day living have been shaken when the bodies of two of those women have been found murdered. Accusations are thrown into the air with their targets directed at the Americans. Our gal Poppy takes her mystery skills as a part-time writer and implements them into finding out who is behind the murders. Tessa Arlen creates a journey into times past with an emphasis on the sacrifices made during World War II and the stress and uncertainty of potential raids on the English countryside. But then she rounds out her story with developing a delightful character in Poppy. Poppy's exploits give depth and interest. The mystery is hardly mindboggling, but it provides an enjoyable escape from some of our heavy-duty reads. Love the bookcover and love the thought that there's a #2 in the making. I received a copy of this book through Goodreads Giveaways. My thanks to Berkley Publishers and to Tessa Arlen for the opportunity.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Literary Redhead

    OMG that cover! And OMG is Poppy Redfern fab — a gutsy air warden and amateur detective extraordinaire in the English village of Little Buffenden. This charming mystery, the first in a new Arlen series, is set in 1942 during my fave historical era, the British blitz. The War Office has taken over Poppy’s family home and farm for an American Air Force airfield. If that’s not troubling enough, two young women involved with American servicemen are found dead. Tensions run high between the locals and OMG that cover! And OMG is Poppy Redfern fab — a gutsy air warden and amateur detective extraordinaire in the English village of Little Buffenden. This charming mystery, the first in a new Arlen series, is set in 1942 during my fave historical era, the British blitz. The War Office has taken over Poppy’s family home and farm for an American Air Force airfield. If that’s not troubling enough, two young women involved with American servicemen are found dead. Tensions run high between the locals and the Americans and shake the little village to its core. Poppy investigates with help from an attractive American pilot. Can they unravel the mystery as she sets a trap close to home for the killer, or will she be the next victim? I love Arlen’s fine writing, the compelling narrative, the characters, and really everything about this sweet mystery. As she wrote when announcing publication: “I was raised on stories of the Blitz in London. My father was given a thrashing because he and his cousin sat up on the roof of their house in Greenwich with their Spam sandwiches to watch a dogfight between Messerschmidts and Spitfires.” That hearty spirit and heritage inform her writing and blitz us with delight. 5 of 5 enthusiastic stars! Pub Date 05 Nov 2019. Thanks to the author, Berkley Publishing Group and NetGalley for the review copy. Opinions are mine. #PoppyRedfernAndTheMidnightMurders #NetGalley

  3. 4 out of 5

    Literary Redhead

    OMG that cover! And OMG is Poppy Redfern fab — a gutsy air warden and amateur detective extraordinaire in the English village of Little Buffenden. This charming mystery, the first in a new Arlen series, is set in 1942 during my fave historical era, the British blitz. The War Office has taken over Poppy’s family home and farm for an American Air Force airfield. If that’s not troubling enough, two young women involved with American servicemen are found dead. Tensions runs high between the locals an OMG that cover! And OMG is Poppy Redfern fab — a gutsy air warden and amateur detective extraordinaire in the English village of Little Buffenden. This charming mystery, the first in a new Arlen series, is set in 1942 during my fave historical era, the British blitz. The War Office has taken over Poppy’s family home and farm for an American Air Force airfield. If that’s not troubling enough, two young women involved with American servicemen are found dead. Tensions runs high between the locals and the Americans and shake the little village to its core. Poppy investigates with help from an attractive American pilot. Can they unravel the mystery as she sets a trap close to home for the killer, or will she be the next victim? I love Arlen’s fine writing, the compelling narrative, the characters, and really everything about this sweet mystery. As she wrote when announcing publication: “I was raised on stories of the Blitz in London. My father was given a thrashing because he and his cousin sat up on the roof of their house in Greenwich with their Spam sandwiches to watch a dogfight between Messerschmidts and Spitfires.” That hearty spirit and heritage inform her writing and blitz us with delight. 5 of 5 enthusiastic stars! Pub Date 05 Nov 2019. Thanks to the author, Berkley Publishing Group and NetGalley for the review copy. Opinions are mine. #PoppyRedfernAndTheMidnightMurders #NetGalley

  4. 5 out of 5

    Tessa Arlen

    I was raised on stories of the Blitz in London. My fifteen year old father was given a thrashing because he and his cousin sat up on the roof of their house in Greenwich with their Spam sandwiches to watch a dogfight between Messerschmidt and Spitfire fighter planes. His stories and memories in no way diminished the severe deprivation that WWII on the home front brought to the British people--they merely sought to lighten the load of a time of terror, loss and the unshakable belief that Nazi Ger I was raised on stories of the Blitz in London. My fifteen year old father was given a thrashing because he and his cousin sat up on the roof of their house in Greenwich with their Spam sandwiches to watch a dogfight between Messerschmidt and Spitfire fighter planes. His stories and memories in no way diminished the severe deprivation that WWII on the home front brought to the British people--they merely sought to lighten the load of a time of terror, loss and the unshakable belief that Nazi Germany would not prevail. It was my father's voice I most often heard as I wrote Poppy Redfern and the Midnight Murders. https://bookriot.com/2020/02/05/die-h...

  5. 5 out of 5

    Anna Lee Huber

    Absolutely smashing! Arlen pens a dynamite beginning to a new series, filled with wartime suspense, skillfully wrought emotions, and a liberal dash of romance. Readers will fall in love with clever and quirky Poppy Redfern and the colorful villagers of Little Buffenden, as well as their dashing new neighbors—the American Airmen.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Mark Baker

    Poppy Redfern is the new air-raid warden for her village in England in 1942. This has become an important job since an American Air Force base as recently moved into the area. Some of the young women have started dating Americans, but when two of them turn up dead, it sets up a divide in the village. Even though an American has been arrested for the murders, Poppy doesn’t think he is guilty. She sets out with one of the American pilots to figure out what really happened. But has she just made he Poppy Redfern is the new air-raid warden for her village in England in 1942. This has become an important job since an American Air Force base as recently moved into the area. Some of the young women have started dating Americans, but when two of them turn up dead, it sets up a divide in the village. Even though an American has been arrested for the murders, Poppy doesn’t think he is guilty. She sets out with one of the American pilots to figure out what really happened. But has she just made herself a target? I’ve been trying to read more historical mysteries this year, and this one was already sitting on my shelf. The author clearly did her research as the details of life at the time came to life. Unfortunately, they tended to overshadow the plot, so the pacing was uneven. Poppy was an interesting main character, and I can easily see her growing as the series continues, but much of the rest of the cast never really came alive for me. While the book wasn’t bad, it wasn’t as good as I hoped it would be. Read my full review at Carstairs Considers.

  7. 5 out of 5

    JoAn

    Poppy Redfern and the Midnight Murders by Tessa Arlen is the first in a new historical cozy mystery series set in the 1940's in Great Britain. I found it to be an intriguing and delightful read. Ms. Arlen descriptive writing showed just how tough it was for England in 1942 being on rationing as all goods were diverted to the troops. Poppy is a smart and determined young woman who has trained to be an Air Warden for her small village which now has an American airfield near. An engaging plot with Poppy Redfern and the Midnight Murders by Tessa Arlen is the first in a new historical cozy mystery series set in the 1940's in Great Britain. I found it to be an intriguing and delightful read. Ms. Arlen descriptive writing showed just how tough it was for England in 1942 being on rationing as all goods were diverted to the troops. Poppy is a smart and determined young woman who has trained to be an Air Warden for her small village which now has an American airfield near. An engaging plot with a few twists, likable characters and a dramatic reveal made this an engaging read for me. I already have the second book in the series on hold at my library.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Kristina

    Poppy Redfern and the Midnight Murders by Tessa Arlen is the first A Woman of WWII Mystery. Poppy Redfern is a spunky woman who has become the Air Raid Warden for Little Buffenden, England. She spends her daytime hours working on a novel featuring her heroine, Ilona Linthwaite and her evening patrolling the village. But then someone begins killing off the young women in the town who are dating American soldiers. Poppy believes the wrong man was arrested for the crime and so does Lt. Griff O’Neal Poppy Redfern and the Midnight Murders by Tessa Arlen is the first A Woman of WWII Mystery. Poppy Redfern is a spunky woman who has become the Air Raid Warden for Little Buffenden, England. She spends her daytime hours working on a novel featuring her heroine, Ilona Linthwaite and her evening patrolling the village. But then someone begins killing off the young women in the town who are dating American soldiers. Poppy believes the wrong man was arrested for the crime and so does Lt. Griff O’Neal. The two work together to get to the truth. I thought Poppy was a great character with her red hair and zest for life. I appreciated that she had a unique position as Air Raid Warden. She is more progressive than the grandparents who raised her and she currently lives with in their small village. I wish the author had taken the time to establish the other characters. I would have liked more on Griff and Poppy’s grandparents. We are introduced to a number of villagers and I found it difficult to keep them straight. The author captured the time period with rationing, homes requisitioned, lack of men, air raids, planes flying overhead, Anderson shelters and bombs dropping out of the sky. I felt like I was transported back in time with the author’s descriptive writing. I did find the pacing to be on the slow side. I wish it had a little more pep. The mystery had some good components. There are two dead women, unique murder weapons, misdirection, and a unique takedown scene. Unfortunately, the guilty party stood out like a beacon on a dark night. I would have liked a complete wrap up instead of part truth and part supposition. I also felt the book needed more action and less of Poppy thinking (about her book, the town, Griff, the case). Little Buffenden is a typical small town. Poppy has known the residents her whole life. They like to offer advice plus pump her for information. Gossip spreads rapidly in this quaint hamlet. This is a good start to a new historical mystery series. The ending gives us a glimpse of what Poppy will be up to in the next book. Poppy Redfern and the Midnight Murders is an appealing new historical cozy mystery with bomb blasts, good natured gossips, ration regulations, a hijacked house and a conniving killer.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Teresa

    While I enjoyed the characters and setting, I found the plot and mystery way too predictable. It was almost disappointing to be so right. And some of the story was much too instant for my taste, especially in book one. But I'd be willing to see where book two would go. While I enjoyed the characters and setting, I found the plot and mystery way too predictable. It was almost disappointing to be so right. And some of the story was much too instant for my taste, especially in book one. But I'd be willing to see where book two would go.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Rebecca

    A little underdeveloped in places, but a nice read overall that really has a firm grasp of its setting.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Kathy

    When I first saw the title and cover of Poppy Redfern and the Midnight Murders several months before it was published, I was smitten with both. I was almost afraid to read it, unsure if Poppy could possibly be a character as great as her name or the story could possibly match that stunning cover. Well, she is, and it does. The history and the mystery are combined beautifully. The English village of Little Buffenden in 1942 is a charming setting, despite murder seeping into the dark of night. I’m When I first saw the title and cover of Poppy Redfern and the Midnight Murders several months before it was published, I was smitten with both. I was almost afraid to read it, unsure if Poppy could possibly be a character as great as her name or the story could possibly match that stunning cover. Well, she is, and it does. The history and the mystery are combined beautifully. The English village of Little Buffenden in 1942 is a charming setting, despite murder seeping into the dark of night. I’m a fan of stories that show the importance of women during WWII, and this book does that, showing the courage and commitment required by the British women on the home front. There has been an invasion in the village of Little Buffenden, but it’s a friendly one. American pilots and Airforce personnel have arrived to man the newly built air base adjacent to the village. There are mixed feelings towards the soldiers, a welcome for the much-needed help against the Germans they provide, but at the same time resentment that help is needed from them. Poppy Redfern and her grandparents have reason to resent the Americans, as it is the Redfern’s family home of Reaches and farmland that have been confiscated and turned into the new airfield. But, they seem fine with their temporary lodging, as they are happy to do their duty and make the sacrifice in the war effort. Young and enthusiastic, Poppy has just returned from London and her training to be the air-raid warden for Little Buffenden, and she eager to help keep her village safe. Making the rounds at night to ensure that all the villagers have properly secured their blackout curtains and that they understand the dangers of non-compliance, she is accompanied by her small dog Bess. But, when danger shows up, it’s not the Germans bombing them in the dark, it’s a murderer preying on the young women of Little Buffenden. Poppy has barely started her job as ARP Warden when Doreen Newcombe, a young woman whom Poppy had known since a child, is found strangled. Doreen had been dating an American serviceman, and the villagers immediately cast suspicion upon him as an outsider. When another young lady is found murdered, Poppy’s doubts about an American being responsible for the murders prods her into doing some of her own investigating. She’s encouraged by handsome, charming American pilot Griff O’Neal, who is concerned about American servicemen being blamed and who also provides the romantic element of the book in connection to Poppy. The list of suspects in the murders are eliminated one by one as Poppy digs into alibis and motives, and the shorter the list, the closer Poppy is to becoming a victim herself. Poppy Redfern and the Midnight Murders is the first in A Woman of World War II Mystery series by Tessa Arlen, and I’m happy to say that it was a smashing success for me. In the beginning of the book, Arlen acknowledges her father and grandfather for the many stories of WWII that they shared with her. It’s quite obvious by the details of the story, from the bombings in London to the daily rationing in Little Buffenden, that the author listened carefully to her primary human sources and then did continuing research to give the reader not only an accurate depiction of the time, but a sense of being there. Bringing history alive in a narrative takes a special skill, and Tessa Arlen has that skill. There is even an appendage at the conclusion of the story explaining certain unique aspects of Britain’s home front during WWII. The characters for this new series have had a great start in development in this first book, with the main characters, especially Poppy, gaining a firm foothold in WWII England and her part in serving her country. I especially like that Arlen sets up expanding possibilities for Poppy’s role in doing her duty, and her personal life is wide open, too. No closed boxes here. Poppy will endear herself to readers as a plucky, fearless, compassionate young woman who takes her responsibilities seriously and doesn’t stop until justice prevails. Readers will be eager to see where those responsibilities lead her.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Kathy Martin

    Poppy Redfern is the only Air Raid Warden in her town of Little Buffenden. Her family's house and farmland have been requisitioned by the War Office to build a new airfield for the American Air Force. The invasion by American Airmen is a sort of friendly invasion that is resented by many in the isolated and insular town. Tensions rise even more when two young women who were dating American Airmen are found strangled to death and a third young woman narrowly escapes death. Poppy is one of the few Poppy Redfern is the only Air Raid Warden in her town of Little Buffenden. Her family's house and farmland have been requisitioned by the War Office to build a new airfield for the American Air Force. The invasion by American Airmen is a sort of friendly invasion that is resented by many in the isolated and insular town. Tensions rise even more when two young women who were dating American Airmen are found strangled to death and a third young woman narrowly escapes death. Poppy is one of the few who don't believe that an American soldier is the strangler. She is busy investigating as she does her rounds. She is helped by American Lieutenant Griff O'Neal even though he does some suspicious things in the course of this story. I liked that there were a number of suspects and that the murderer wasn't necessarily the obvious choice. I liked the interesting characters who lived in the village. I liked Poppy who was attractive and bright but who lacked a little self-confidence. I liked that she had a hidden life as a writer. I liked her canine companion Bess. This was an engaging and entertaining mystery for fans of stories set during World War II.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Tamara

    Poppy Redfern is the local air-raid warden (ARW) for her village, Little Buffenden. Her family house and farmland have been requisitioned by War Office as a new airfield for the American Air Force. Poppy is a bright, independent-minded and strong woman. When two girls from her village are found dead, Poppy makes it her business to find who killed Doreen and Ivy. Even though she wasn't really close to either girl, their murders is a shock to this tiny English village. This took me until about the Poppy Redfern is the local air-raid warden (ARW) for her village, Little Buffenden. Her family house and farmland have been requisitioned by War Office as a new airfield for the American Air Force. Poppy is a bright, independent-minded and strong woman. When two girls from her village are found dead, Poppy makes it her business to find who killed Doreen and Ivy. Even though she wasn't really close to either girl, their murders is a shock to this tiny English village. This took me until about the middle of this book before it hit its stride for me. I kept reading it because Poppy was such a strong character and I wanted to see where this would go. I am glad that I stuck with it because it definitely picks up its pace. Poppy is a well-rounded person, she doesn't hang out with the popular girls, even though she may want to, I really admired her that she stuck to her guns about who she was. I don't know if I really loved the plot line as it wasn't as strong as I would've liked it to be. In the end, everything was wrapped up but, I guess I would've liked more "sleuthing" to ensue.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Minx

    True Rating 3.5 stars! Poppy Redfern and the Midnight Murders is the first book in the A Woman of WWII Mystery series and it truly gives the reader a feeling of what life in the English village of Little Buffenden would have been like in the 1940’s during WWII. Protagonist, Poppy Redfern, was a woman who had a mind of her own and I liked her immensely. She was a newly trained Air Raid Precautions (ARP) Warden and she took her job very seriously. With an American airfield having just been built ad True Rating 3.5 stars! Poppy Redfern and the Midnight Murders is the first book in the A Woman of WWII Mystery series and it truly gives the reader a feeling of what life in the English village of Little Buffenden would have been like in the 1940’s during WWII. Protagonist, Poppy Redfern, was a woman who had a mind of her own and I liked her immensely. She was a newly trained Air Raid Precautions (ARP) Warden and she took her job very seriously. With an American airfield having just been built adjacent to the village, Poppy knew the chances of an air raid had increased exponentially and it was up to her to make the residents understand the threat that they were truly under. The people of the village might not have been too worried about the reality of a bombing but what did concern them were the Americans themselves. After two girls, who were dating airmen, turned up murdered, the townspeople had begun casting aspersions about the presence of all the Americans. Despite public opinion, Poppy did not necessarily believe that it was the American boyfriends who were responsible for the recent murders. In addition to her ARP duties, she decided to do some amateur sleuthing and even partnered with an American pilot in hopes of finding clues revealing who was responsible for the deaths before the tensions between the villagers and the Americans escalated out of control. In Poppy Redfern and the Midnight Murders, the details of village life for residents of Little Buffenden during WWII was wonderfully done. The tensions that were felt, as well as the rationing of everyday goods, really painted a picture of what life would have been like during this time. I liked Poppy’s character very much but I wish more attention had been paid to the other characters in this story as well. Griff, Poppy’s sleuthing partner, was a nice guy but his development felt lacking to me and I wasn’t as invested in his and Poppy’s interactions as much as I should have been. I will say that the mystery in this story was interesting, with a few red herrings thrown in for good measure. Overall, Poppy Redfern and the Midnight Murders is a story that is filled with many wonderful historical details and it will absolutely appeal to fans of historical cozy mysteries. This review is based on a complimentary book I received from Berkley Prime Crime. It is an honest and voluntary review. The complimentary receipt of it in no way affected my review or rating.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Jaclyn

    Poppy Redfern and the Midnight Murders is the perfect historical mystery for those who dislike the grittiness that can by present in WWII fiction. It features a young amateur sleuth, Poppy Redfern, who works to solve the murders of two young women in her English village, alongside the help of an American pilot stationed nearby. While I appreciated the setting, for me, I thought this one had a tone that didn't match the actual content. Two young women have been murdered, and you never really got Poppy Redfern and the Midnight Murders is the perfect historical mystery for those who dislike the grittiness that can by present in WWII fiction. It features a young amateur sleuth, Poppy Redfern, who works to solve the murders of two young women in her English village, alongside the help of an American pilot stationed nearby. While I appreciated the setting, for me, I thought this one had a tone that didn't match the actual content. Two young women have been murdered, and you never really got the sense that this village was THAT troubled. We were told that the village was troubled and convinced that the Americans had something to do with it. But, I suspect that this would have had a much greater impact than presented here. I also found the pacing to be very strange. It may have been due to the eBook format, but I found it jarring how time would jump around in the novel. Suddenly a couple of days had gone by and there had been developments. This one didn't completely hold my interest; I was expecting something darker. That being said, I do think this one will work for readers who enjoy mysteries of the more cozy variety. *Review copy provided by the publisher via NetGalley.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Kay (aka) Miss Bates

    I have droned on and on, to your great boredom, about how I love romance and how my second love is the mystery-romance-historical combo, like Deanna Raybourn, or Susanna Kearsley, C. S. Harris, Jennifer Ashley … *sobs* and the no-longer-writing-new-Renegades-of-the-Revolution Donna Thorland. Let’s face it, I love the hybrids as much as I love romance, so let’s let that second love thing die. Now, with Tessa Arlen’s first in A Woman of WWII series, I’m adding another much-anticipated series to th I have droned on and on, to your great boredom, about how I love romance and how my second love is the mystery-romance-historical combo, like Deanna Raybourn, or Susanna Kearsley, C. S. Harris, Jennifer Ashley … *sobs* and the no-longer-writing-new-Renegades-of-the-Revolution Donna Thorland. Let’s face it, I love the hybrids as much as I love romance, so let’s let that second love thing die. Now, with Tessa Arlen’s first in A Woman of WWII series, I’m adding another much-anticipated series to the beloved list. Given the stay-at-home state of things, Arlen’s Poppy Redfern and the Midnight Murders made for the perfect comfort read: with a Christie-Foyle’s-War-inspired English village + eccentrics setting and intrepid, engaging, loveable heroine, the eponymous Poppy, a too-charming-for-his-and-Poppy’s-own-good American Army Air Force hero … and no less than a Midsommer Murders corps of village-body-count! While I toiled away at WFH and dabbed lipstick for Zoom meetings, I enjoyed, in the time-interstices, my reading of Poppy, her American hero, and their joint sleuthing. When the novel opens, Poppy is the midst of a London-air-raid, the last of her training as an ARP (Air Raid Precautions) warden. She brings her new-found status and expertise to Chiltern’s Little Buffenden, where she lives with her grandparents, herds an array of eccentric villagers in air-raid drills with her loyal, stalwart, and heroic dog-companion, Bess, and becomes intertwined with the newly-arrived American Army Air Force pilots, whose base is on her grandfather’s temporarily-donated farm, Reaches. Not long after Poppy’s arrival, two young village women, Doreen Newcombe and Ivy Wantage, are murdered (Poppy finds Ivy’s body while on patrol) and Poppy with the ever-vigilant Bess are on the case, soon joined by the California-born, exemplary-cook and irresistibly-handsome Lieutenant Griff O’Neal, Poppy’s love interest. There are sundry reasons why I loved Arlen’s Poppy and Poppy, but the one that has to stand out is the writing. A writer can have great ideas, premises, twisty tropes, but nought can come of them if the writing isn’t adept, or the pacing tight and focussed. Arlen excels at the former and wavers on the latter. But the characters are so lovingly drawn and developped I couldn’t help but be charmed by the novel throughout. Here are mere snippets that drew me in from the start. Poppy recounts her first impressions of Griff: ” … tall, over six feet, but all Americans are tall, aren’t they? … the closest feature in my line of vision was his mouth, smiling widely over teeth of film-star-white evenness.” Who can resist a heroine who is both funny and strives for justice and right?: “my young years still have me fighting for every injustice, a ready champion for a lost cause.” Poppy’s observation of the mama’s boy Home Guard officer, Sid, tasked with protecting her on her nightly air-raid-curtain inspection: “He is an earnest young man who suffers from a complete deficit of wit.” Love, justice, and a sexy lieutenant, what more does a mystery-romance novel need? Well, a dog who steals every scene, that’s what. Bessie only adds to Arlen’s engaging tale. (I know, I know, punning is the lowest form of wit, but Shakespeare … ) Arlen builds some great tension between the newly-arrived Americans and the natives, all in good fun, and provides an opposites-attract counterpoint to Poppy in Griff O’Neal. She’s justice and dry humour to his sharp, ebullient wits and expansive American bonhomie. Some of my favourite scenes are Griff’s taking-over Poppy’s grandparents’ kitchen after Jasper and Alice Redfern begin a tradition of bringing the Americans and select villagers together for a Sunday lunch. Their peace-making efforts bear fruit and a great roast beef when everyone gets to enjoy Griff’s superior culinary skills, even Bess: “He looked up from basting the beef; the smell was sensational. My mouth watered, and Bess made a wistful moaning sound deep in her throat.” No doubt Poppy would join Bess at the sight of muscled-gorgeousness in her kitchen, but she is a diffident English woman after all. Though Poppy has an alter ego who wouldn’t hesitate to jump the American’s bones any less than Bess would gnaw at the beef’s. Poppy is writing a Blitz-set murder mystery novel, starring the intrepid, knowing Ilona Linthwaite, who serves as the “voice” in Poppy’s head and alter ego, advising, encouraging, at times admonishing any timidity with men or murderers. My moues of disappointment? Though I’m not one of those readers who guesses the murderer, too engrossed in the characters and their relationships and making notes on the writing to pay that kind of attention, I did guess this one. It didn’t take anything from my enjoyment, but you may care about this. I don’t. I thought Poppy did a weird aboutface on Griff, out of caution and insecurity, that spoiled the romance. Again, a niggling point given the HEA! The mystery itself lagged, maybe because Arlen created such great secondary characters (love the vicar!) and took much narrative time doing so, but this is something, again, I don’t mind. If you love a tightly-paced mystery, you might grow impatient. I didn’t, wanted MOAR Griff, Poppy, and Bessie. All in all, I loved Poppy and the Midnight Murders and can’t wait to read Poppy, Griff, and Bess’s next adventure. With Miss Austen, we say Arlen’s series start is indicative of “a mind lively and at ease,” Emma. Tessa Arlen’s Poppy and the Midnight Murders is published by Berkley Prime Crime. It was released in November 2019 and may be found at your preferred vendors. I received an e-galley from Berkley, via Netgalley.

  17. 5 out of 5

    The Library Lady

    Tessa Arlen gets 1 star, and I'd give her zero if I could for having the chutzpah to self rate her own book 5 stars. The details of daily life in WWII England are much better than the mystery here. There's a mild red herring or two, but the killer's identity isn't surprising. The "Ilona" bit echoes Charles Todd's character Ian Rutledge. Poppy may not really hear her heroine "Ilona" the way Ian hears the ghost of Hamish, but it sure seems that way. And the drama of the unmasking of the killer is Tessa Arlen gets 1 star, and I'd give her zero if I could for having the chutzpah to self rate her own book 5 stars. The details of daily life in WWII England are much better than the mystery here. There's a mild red herring or two, but the killer's identity isn't surprising. The "Ilona" bit echoes Charles Todd's character Ian Rutledge. Poppy may not really hear her heroine "Ilona" the way Ian hears the ghost of Hamish, but it sure seems that way. And the drama of the unmasking of the killer is absurd. Poppy is saved by an event that is pure Deus Ex Machina in its perfect timing. It's not very good writing. Then again, Poppy's "Ilona" book should be rejected by any good editor, but instead it wins her a new job and gives the author material for another book. One that I'm not terribly eager to read.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Joelle

    Mild Spoilers Ahead: Another reviewer compared Poppy Redfern to Nancy Drew and I 100% agree. Much like Nancy (who I loved as a preteen) Poppy would never solve the mystery if she didn’t happen to be in the right place at the right time. She doesn’t figure everything out until the last minute when the murderer has his hands around her neck. Side note: I really don’t like reading about psychopathic murderers. I think some authors use it as an easy out. A perpetrator needs less motive if you can jus Mild Spoilers Ahead: Another reviewer compared Poppy Redfern to Nancy Drew and I 100% agree. Much like Nancy (who I loved as a preteen) Poppy would never solve the mystery if she didn’t happen to be in the right place at the right time. She doesn’t figure everything out until the last minute when the murderer has his hands around her neck. Side note: I really don’t like reading about psychopathic murderers. I think some authors use it as an easy out. A perpetrator needs less motive if you can just say he’s crazy. This is probably just a personal pet peeve of mine. I would have enjoyed this so much more if everything about the murder plot didn’t exist. What’s left you ask? A story about the inhabitants of a rural English village during WWII. I enjoyed that part of the story very much. It was quaint, funny, and the people were well written. Also, I would have said this was a pretty clean read, but then in the last two chapters the murderer suddenly acquired a foul mouth. Why?!

  19. 4 out of 5

    Elissa

    You can absolutely judge this book by the cover. It's a great cover and a great book. Poppy and her family are well written, as are the other characters. The village setting is wonderful and although I thought I knew who did it early on I continued to second guess myself until the end. A must read for fans of Francis Brody, Anna Lee Huber, Susan Elia MacNeal, and Jacqueline Winspear. You can absolutely judge this book by the cover. It's a great cover and a great book. Poppy and her family are well written, as are the other characters. The village setting is wonderful and although I thought I knew who did it early on I continued to second guess myself until the end. A must read for fans of Francis Brody, Anna Lee Huber, Susan Elia MacNeal, and Jacqueline Winspear.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Laura Edwards

    A bit dull. This idea was originally explored in Kate Kingsbury's "Manor House Mystery" series and done much better. Also, Poppy seems much younger than her twenty-three years. If the idea appeals to you, but like me, you just could not find a connection with Poppy or this series, you might try the Kate Kingsbury books. A bit dull. This idea was originally explored in Kate Kingsbury's "Manor House Mystery" series and done much better. Also, Poppy seems much younger than her twenty-three years. If the idea appeals to you, but like me, you just could not find a connection with Poppy or this series, you might try the Kate Kingsbury books.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Regan

    I don’t know how I missed Tessa Arlen before, but she’s at the top of my must read list now. Arlen tells a fabulous story with great characters. Despite loving the movie Hanover Street starring Harrison Ford, Lesley-Anne Down, and Christopher Plummer I haven’t been a fan of movies or books set during WW-II. Arlen’s POPPY REDFERN AND THE MIDNIGHT MURDERS has certainly turned me around—at least when it comes to well done mysteries. Poppy is such a great character. I think she is one of my absolute I don’t know how I missed Tessa Arlen before, but she’s at the top of my must read list now. Arlen tells a fabulous story with great characters. Despite loving the movie Hanover Street starring Harrison Ford, Lesley-Anne Down, and Christopher Plummer I haven’t been a fan of movies or books set during WW-II. Arlen’s POPPY REDFERN AND THE MIDNIGHT MURDERS has certainly turned me around—at least when it comes to well done mysteries. Poppy is such a great character. I think she is one of my absolute favorites. She’s smart, kind, and comes across like someone you’d like to have for a friend. Her imaginary “friend” who is the heroine of the book she is writing, Ilona, is a wonderful foil for Poppy. Even though Ilona is fictional in Poppy’s world she adds a fun and creative dimension to the story. Griff is such a great hero. Smart but not smug, confident without being egotistical as witnessed when he tells Poppy good pilots don’t die. Little Buffington has its share of quirky characters from Mrs. Glossop to Sid Ritchie. But it also has other characters, some you want to slap like Fenella and others you want to hug like Bess (Poppy’s dog). I was pretty sure I knew who the killer was from the beginning, but loved the way Arlen had Poppy ferret the culprit out. Arlen also gives realistic details of Little Buffington and its environs as well as what could well have happened during air raids. She brings home the sadness, upheaval and devastation of war without falling into leaving the reader depressed. This is definitely a series to add to your “must read” list. I can’t wait for book 2!

  22. 5 out of 5

    Colleen

    3 Stars *An decent mystery with too flippant a tone* I've been burnt out on WWII novels for years now. But after the moderate enjoyment of The Amber Shadows, I thought I'd give another WWII Mystery a try. Enter Poppy Redfern and the Midnight Murders which I saw on bookstagram. The results were mixed. This is the story of Poppy Redfern, an air warden in a small English town during the war passing the time while working on her novel. But when young women in her village started being murdered, Poppy d 3 Stars *An decent mystery with too flippant a tone* I've been burnt out on WWII novels for years now. But after the moderate enjoyment of The Amber Shadows, I thought I'd give another WWII Mystery a try. Enter Poppy Redfern and the Midnight Murders which I saw on bookstagram. The results were mixed. This is the story of Poppy Redfern, an air warden in a small English town during the war passing the time while working on her novel. But when young women in her village started being murdered, Poppy decided she needed to solve the murders herself. Poppy Redfern and the Midnight Murders was mostly a Cozy Mystery. The main problem I had with the story was that there was an almost flippant tone to the writing. At first, I gave it the benefit of the doubt. I thought that it would be like Dear Mrs. Bird which started out with a fluffy tone but ended up being quite poignant. But Poppy Redfern and the Midnight Murders never got to that level of emotion or depth. Even for a Cozy Mystery, a story about grisly murders and bleak war should have had more moments of seriousness. But despite historical research, there was always a disconnect with reality. The story is narrated in first person by Poppy, so it is her voice that gives the story that off feeling. I think the goal was chipper dreamer, but Poppy sounded too insouciant. And severely lacking in empathy. It was off-putting to be in the head of someone whose primary goal for investigating the murders is get inspiration for her novel. The way she used the victim’s friends and family for her own ends was pretty abhorrent. I don’t recall her exact age being mentioned, but I think she was meant to be in her early twenties? Regardless, both her tone and her actions were often immature and irresponsible. And the conversations between Poppy and her fictional character were weird. The writing also switches between past and present tense almost as if Poppy is writing a diary. But the timing of when this is supposed to be written (during or after the events) seems to shift along with the tense into something murky and indistinct. Part of the disconnect may also be that I'm less patient with amateur sleuths the older I get. While I enjoy my role as armchair investigator, I have less and less sympathy for average joes who meander obliviously into danger just because they are convinced they are the only ones who can solve the crime. And to add one last nitpicky note: the dog on the cover is the wrong breed. That being said, the plot did keep me guessing. The story was good overall, but not great. I may continue on with the series at some point when I want a lighter in-between read, but it won’t be one that I actively seek out. RATING FACTORS: Ease of Reading: 4 Stars Writing Style: 3 Stars Characters and Character Development: 3 Stars Plot Structure and Development: 4 Stars Level of Captivation: 3 Stars Originality: 3 Stars

  23. 5 out of 5

    Jamie Canaves

    This is one of those mysteries where I just fell in love with the main character early on and very much enjoyed watching her navigate her world while trying to solve a mystery. Poppy Redfern is an Air Raid Warden in a remote English village in 1942—a few years into WWII—who has been raised by her grandparents and is rational, curious, kind, and compassionate—with a little dog as a sidekick. While her kindness and rationality has her neutral on the American Air Force members arriving in town, she This is one of those mysteries where I just fell in love with the main character early on and very much enjoyed watching her navigate her world while trying to solve a mystery. Poppy Redfern is an Air Raid Warden in a remote English village in 1942—a few years into WWII—who has been raised by her grandparents and is rational, curious, kind, and compassionate—with a little dog as a sidekick. While her kindness and rationality has her neutral on the American Air Force members arriving in town, she is mostly alone in this mindset, especially when women begin to be murdered and all eyes turn to the Americans. Maybe not helping her stay clearheaded all the time is her crush on one of the Americans, but Redfern has the ability to shake most things off after some processing and continue with the task at hand, which in this case is who among them is a murderer? This was an enjoyable and entertaining read with an ending (separate from the mystery) that left me wanting to follow Redfern in her future endeavors. This works well if you’re looking for a new series to pickup and also if you want just a standalone as the mystery is all wrapped up in the first book. Bonus: The audiobook is on Hoopla and has a good narrator. (TW mentions domestic violence/past suicide, detail/talk of past peeping Tom) https://bookriot.com/2020/02/05/die-h...

  24. 4 out of 5

    Karyn Silverman

    Meh. Figured it out halfway, characters were fine but not amazing. However that (a little ridiculous) ending sets up some more exciting possibilities for the rest of the series.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Debbie Floyd

    3.5 stars

  26. 4 out of 5

    Jenna

    I've never had a book about murder make me happy lol. I absolutely adored Poppy Redfern and the Midnight Murders. Last year I was granted a digital ARC copy of this book through Edelweiss and I never got around to reading it. I saw that it was available on Scribd a couple weeks ago and jumped at the chance to finally knock it off my TBR. I am so glad to have listened to this on audio. The narrator ( Madeleine Leslay ) was fantastic. Highly recommend the audio. What I Loved About This Book- The Coz I've never had a book about murder make me happy lol. I absolutely adored Poppy Redfern and the Midnight Murders. Last year I was granted a digital ARC copy of this book through Edelweiss and I never got around to reading it. I saw that it was available on Scribd a couple weeks ago and jumped at the chance to finally knock it off my TBR. I am so glad to have listened to this on audio. The narrator ( Madeleine Leslay ) was fantastic. Highly recommend the audio. What I Loved About This Book- The Coziness- I've never read a cozy mystery. This is my first! I loved the way this book made me feel while listening to it. There was something about the setting and characters that I found so comforting. The Characters - Specifically Poppy. She is so endearing. I wanted to befriend her and I loved tagging along with her and Bess on while solving this mystery. I love Bess! ( for those who are reading and don't know- Bess is the cute dog on the cover ) The Setting- I love a small town setting! Little Buffenden felt very familiar. I felt at home and loved getting to know some of the towns people. The Time Period-This is a WWII mystery and if you know me, you know I love this time period. The Conclusion- I didn't figure out who the killer was! Overall- definitely recommend. I'm currently listening to book 2 and I have a feeling it will be just as good!

  27. 4 out of 5

    Hilary (A Wytch's Book Review)

    What a wonderful start to a new series! Poppy Redfern has been in London training as an ARP Warden, she arrives back in Little Buffenden to find her family home has been requisitioned and is now home to a large number of American airmen, the young ladies of the village are thrilled and even Poppy finds herself being squired around by an American by the name of Griff O'Neal, but the detente between the British and the Americans is put under strain when first one, then another village young woman i What a wonderful start to a new series! Poppy Redfern has been in London training as an ARP Warden, she arrives back in Little Buffenden to find her family home has been requisitioned and is now home to a large number of American airmen, the young ladies of the village are thrilled and even Poppy finds herself being squired around by an American by the name of Griff O'Neal, but the detente between the British and the Americans is put under strain when first one, then another village young woman is killed ... killed by an American by all accounts.  Poppy and Griff however think that it isn't that cut and dried and so they start to try and piece together what happened, only to have another young woman attacked (not killed luckily!) and a wedge being driven between Poppy and Griff. Can they figure out what is going on, and patch together their friendship (and more) or will the Buffenden Strangler strike close to home?

  28. 5 out of 5

    Eden

    2019 bk 410. Every so often Amazon's book suggestions get it right. I loved this first novel by Tessa Arlen. She has an excellent ability to write in time and place, including the little things that makes the reader think "oh they do that because .... wasn't available," and let's the reader know there are differences between life in the then and now. The mystery was well plotted, I liked the characters and as in real life, sometimes it is hard to identify real evil in someone that you know. I do 2019 bk 410. Every so often Amazon's book suggestions get it right. I loved this first novel by Tessa Arlen. She has an excellent ability to write in time and place, including the little things that makes the reader think "oh they do that because .... wasn't available," and let's the reader know there are differences between life in the then and now. The mystery was well plotted, I liked the characters and as in real life, sometimes it is hard to identify real evil in someone that you know. I do hope that there will be more Poppy books in the future.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Laina

    This was really cute! It was just cozy enough because Poppy's spunkiness, combined with the war background, provided enough of a non-cozy feel for me not to feel like I was being patronized. I also really enjoyed the setting; WWII is overdone a bit but this offered a setting during WWII that I hadn't read about before, so I wasn't exhausted of it. I did anticipate the who of the mystery but not the how, so I wasn't disappointed about figuring it out too early. And the love interest felt genuine This was really cute! It was just cozy enough because Poppy's spunkiness, combined with the war background, provided enough of a non-cozy feel for me not to feel like I was being patronized. I also really enjoyed the setting; WWII is overdone a bit but this offered a setting during WWII that I hadn't read about before, so I wasn't exhausted of it. I did anticipate the who of the mystery but not the how, so I wasn't disappointed about figuring it out too early. And the love interest felt genuine for the time period and I was generally into it. I'd listen to the second one!

  30. 4 out of 5

    Chickadee

    3.5/5 stars

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