FAQs – questions asked by readers of the Blitz Detective books

How is Detective Inspector Jago’s name pronounced?

It’s “Jay-go”, with the initial “J” pronounced as in “John” and with the stress on the first syllable. It’s the Cornish form of “James”. D.I. Jago was born and raised in West Ham, but his ancestors were from Cornwall.


If Detective Inspector Jago is based in the Essex County Borough of West Ham, why is he in the Metropolitan Police rather than the Essex Constabulary?

For historical reasons – while West Ham was still part of the county of Essex, by 1940 it had been within the Metropolitan Police District for a hundred years, following a change in the boundaries under the Metropolitan Police Act 1839. West Ham came under K Division of the Metropolitan Police.


Why does DC Cradock call Jago “guv’nor”?

It’s the term a junior officer in the Metropolitan Police would have used to address a senior officer with more respect than the usual “sir”.

As Dick Kirby says in his book The Guv’nors: Ten of Scotland Yard’s greatest detectives, “In the constabularies, the comparable expression may be ‘Boss’ or ‘Gaffer’ – in the Metropolitan police, however, ‘Guv’nor’ is the highest accolade that can be bestowed on an officer of the rank of inspector or above. It is not a right – it has to be earned.”


Is the Riley Lynx a real car?

Yes, it was a British open-top tourer built by the Riley company of Coventry from 1933 to 1936. Jago’s was a 1934 model that would have cost £298 new, plus £27 for the preselector gearbox, but he bought it second-hand in 1938 for £75.


What is “Wanstead Flats”?

An area of grassland just outside the northern border of the Borough of West Ham and to the south of Epping Forest that was used for recreation and grazing. Later in the war it housed a prisoner of war camp.


Sergeant Tompkins says that in the First World War he served in “Ally Sloper’s Cavalry”. What was that?

It was the Army Service Corps (ASC), the British Army corps responsible for transporting food, ammunition and equipment to the troops at the front, and the name was an alternative interpretation of its initials. Ally Sloper was a character in the weekly comic Ally Sloper’s Half Holiday (published from 1884 to 1916), a disreputable rent-dodger, schemer and drunkard.

Why does Tompkins call his medals “Pip, Squeak and Wilfred”?

British armed forces personnel who served in France and Belgium during the initial phase of the First World War, from 5 August to 22 November 1914, were entitled to the 1914 Star (also known as the Mons Star). My grandfather was one of these.

Servicemen who left UK shores while on service, regardless of whether they were involved in action, received the British War Medal. All those who entered a theatre of war were awarded the Victory Medal. The set of three was known informally as “Pip, Squeak and Wilfred” after characters in a popular 1920s Daily Mirror comic strip – a dog, a penguin and a rabbit respectively.


Who was Hutch?

Hutch (real name Leslie Hutchinson), born on the Caribbean island of Grenada in 1900, was one of Britain’s top singing stars in the 1920s and 1930s, and his recording of “It’s a Lovely Day Tomorrow” was a hit in 1940.


Was “Very tasty, very sweet” a catchphrase?

Yes, it was used by husband-and-wife variety act Kenway and Young, who appeared in the popular Monday evening BBC radio show Howdy Folks in 1940.


What’s a WAAF?

A WAAF (pronounced waff) was a member of the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force – perhaps best known now as the women who plotted aircraft movements on a big map table in RAF control rooms, but they worked in many other roles too.


Who was the Umbrella Man?

This was a popular nickname for Neville Chamberlain, British prime minister at the outbreak of the Second World War, and alluded to his habit of carrying an umbrella.


How many Blitz Detective novels will there be?

It’s a series, so I hope it will go on as long as people want to buy them and read them – and as long as there are fresh murders for Jago to solve. I’m currently working on number 5, to follow Direct Hit, Fifth Column, Enemy Action and Firing Line, and if all goes well that should come out in 2019.


Does it matter what order I read them in?

In one sense no, because each novel is a complete story in itself. But since some of the main characters go on from book to book it’s best to read them in their order of publication.