Monday 11 October 2021


Synopsis/blurb ...

Major new hardcover launch by an acclaimed author: a gripping thriller, an unforgettable portrait of war, and a heartbreaking love story, on par with ALL THE LIGHT WE CANNOT SEE.

Read this book for its palpitating story, its perfect emotional and physical detailing and, most of all, for its unforgettable conjuring of a steamy quicksilver world that will be new to almost every reader. Pico Iyer

December 1941. America teeters on the brink of war, and in Honolulu, Hawaii, police detective Joe McGrady is assigned to investigate a grisly homicide that will change his life forever. Because the trail of murder he uncovers will lead him across the Pacific, and though the U.S. doesn't know it yet, a Japanese fleet is already heading toward Pearl Harbor. This extraordinary novel is so much more than just a gripping detective story--it's a story of survival against all odds, of brutality and ruthlessness, of love and loss, all unfolding against the backdrop of the most cataclysmic conflict of the 20th century. Spanning the entirety of World War II, FIVE DECEMBERS is a beautiful, masterful, shocking novel that will live in your memory forever.

An absolute banger of a book - breathtaking, addictive and a proper page-turner. Highly recommended. I doubt that I'll be able to do the book justice here. Trust me - just read the bloody thing. 

We have a cracking story with a multiple murder investigation which straddles the slight inconvenience of World War II and the incarceration for our main character, the lead detective, Joe McGrady. He loses his liberty but finds something else by way of compensation.

Murder, investigation, loss, war, opposing sides with common goals, imprisonment, an alliance, secrecy, romance, the passage of time, solace, comfort, end of conflict, freedom, a resumption of enquiries, and a continued pursuit of justice and/or retribution. 

I really loved this one. There's a tremendous sense of time and place with the book kicking off just prior to the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour. Through Joe McGrady's war experiences we also see another side of Japanese society and some disquiet with the direction the country's leaders have taken Japan. After nearly five long years, we also view the devastation that war has taken on the country and on it's people with civilians bearing the brunt of America's military muscle. 

As well as an ambitious overview of the times, there is also a sadistic and brutal double murder to be solved; one which has an impact on a personal level with the undoubted sufferings of the victims and the ongoing pain of their relatives.

One of the best books I've read all year.

5 from 5

James Kestrel is a pseudonym for a well-established author. Having done a bit of sleuthing to uncover his identity, I'm happy to say I have a couple of his books on the TBR pile already. I'll be bumping them a bit closer to the top.

Read - September, 2021
Published - 2021
Page count - 432
Source - review copy from publisher Hard Case Crime
Format - PDF read on laptop


  1. It does sound like a powerful read, Col. The premise sounds very well done, and it's interesting to get a bit of a deeper look at some of the things going on at the time. I may have to put this one on the list...

    1. Margot, I think you should. I doubt you'll regret it!

  2. Sounds like a great book. I will be looking for it.

    1. Tracy, I hope you find it. It's really good.

  3. You are not alone, Col. I’ve read several glowing reviews about this one. It is on my list. So, now, give: who is the author? Nah, never mind. That he created this book is enough.