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Francis Hancock Books In Order

Publication Order of Francis Hancock Books

Last Rights (2005) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
After the Mourning (2006) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Ashes to Ashes (2008) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Sure and Certain Death (2009) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Francis Hancock is the lead character in a series of novels written by an American author of mystery & thrillers novels Barbara Nadel. Francis Hancock is an undertaker during the 1940’s and Second World War, London, England. Additionally, he is also a WWI vet suffering from symptoms of what today would be known as
post-traumatic stress disorder.

Barbara Nadel began publication of Francis Hancock series in 2005 when Last Rights, the first book in the series was published. Francis Hancock series lasted four novels concluding in 2009 when Sure and Certain Death was published. Barbara Nadel’s novel Ashes to Ashes and Sure and Certain Death won the London Borough of Redbridge “Big Red Read” for the best book the year in 2008 and 2010 respectively.

Last Rights

Barbara Nadel, a member of the crime writers of America, having written critically acclaimed Inspector Ikmen series set in modern Istanbul; Nadel set out to write a series set in London during the Blitz. Last Rights, the first book in Francis Hancock series introduced a maudlin, an unlikely, and yet sympathetic private investigator; undertaker Francis Hancock.

Francis Hancock is mixed race, the child of an Indian mother and white father. His grandfather had been an undertaker, and Francis took over the family business when his father died. He is a man haunted by horrible memories of the battlefield during the First World War and has had psychological problems since then.

The story takes place during the Blitz during the air raids making it impossible for Francis to stay in shelters. For example, during one of the attacks, he stumbles across a man who claims of being stabbed by a woman, but there is no physical evidence of wound or blood. But later the body of the same man is brought on his undertaker’s table, and Francis discovers of an injury that is not as a result of the bombing. The cops would quickly brush it under
the table given all the problems the country is facing- but they end up investigating into the death, and as a result, one woman is charged, but Francis firmly
believes that she is innocent.

However, it is upon Francis to prove that the charged woman is innocent and bring the real murderer to justice. The remainder of Last Rights deals with Francis
quest to find the truth.

What makes the first book in Francis Hancock series a brilliant read is the historical setting and picture of how normal people’s lives were adversely affected by the Blitz. Barbara greatest source inspiration to writing series was the fact that her grandfather was WWI veteran who suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder or what was commonly known as shellshock and experienced most of the problems that Francis Hancock did.

Last Rights is narrated in first person perspective by Francis Hancock, who does his job best despite being always haunted by his past. The author does a great job of depicting London during the Blitz, which gives readers a simulation into the issues in the impoverished landscapes of London, the ethnic
and racial prejudices that were common at the time.

After the Mourning

In After the Mourning, the second book in Francis Hancock series, we find Francis taking care of the “dead victims” of an air raid. He is also trying his best also to take care of the survivors as well when he is called to Epping Forest to prepare the body of a young Roman woman for burial.

The forest is swarming with inhabitants, as the Gypsies are joined by the families left squatters by the air raids, and some German citizens including a German gypsy by the name Martin Stojka, a family of German Jewish survivors who are trying to flee from re-internment in Britain as German
citizens.

When Francis comes to get the body for burial, – the dead woman’s sister Lily sees a vision of the Virgin Mary inspiring the forest refugees, including Francis elderly mother and Blitz-traumatized cousin- Stella.

When Lily is killed, and the local cop refuses to conduct an investigation, Francis takes over and investigates the miracles and accusations, but this only gets him entangled in a deadly maze of murder, suspicion and political intrigue. But he must find the killer and save the Epping Forest Gypsies and also save his own life.

The second book in the series is an intriguing story both regarding characterization and setting- which are of course Nadel’s greatest strengths. The mystery in this book is intimately connected to the Battle of Cable Street- the non-violent demonstration of 4th October 1936 involving over 300,000 people that prevented Sir Oswald Mosley from marching across an East End Jewish neighborhood, one that may have ultimately ruined Mosley hopes of becoming Britain first Fascist Prime Minister.

Ashes to Ashes

On the night of 29th Dec 1940, the City of London, St. Paul’s Cathedral were the main targets of continuous German airstrikes specially designed to bring an end to both spiritual and the commercial heart of London, and with it British morale. Ready to fight the raiders was St. Paul’s Watch, a group of 250 architects, cathedral staff, professionals, armed with an iron conviction and stirrup pumps that the cathedral must be saved.

The third novel is set in St. Paul’s on that momentous night. Gathered in the vault is a group of normal Londoners sheltering from the raging battles outside, and amongst them is Francis Hancock, a veteran of the Great War haunted by its memories; day and night such that he is unable to distinguish between what is real and what is not, and thus he makes conflicting guide to the events of this fateful evening.

Francis is soon
requested to find the whereabouts of a foul-mouthed teenage girl who appeared and suddenly disappeared from the vault. His search leads him on a terrifying adventure of the St. Paul from the vault to the Whispering Gallery and far beyond, as a group of Cathedral Guards seeks to prevent him from finding the little girl upon whom they have very ill intentions.

The third in Francis Hancock series is chock full of fascinating ideas and a likable protagonist still suffering from the effects of the First World War while the second consumes him bit by bit. In her narration, Barbara Nadel raises a couple. of interesting questions such as- how far one may go in defense of his own country, she also reminds the readers of the casual racism that was the order of the day.

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