West Ham police station. This building at 64 West Ham Lane housed the police station from 1895 to 1969, after which it was converted into private flats.
Photo: Newham Heritage and Archive collection. Used with permission.
John Jago is a detective inspector in London’s Metropolitan Police. He serves on K Division and is based at West Ham police station, where he’s assisted by Detective Constable Peter Cradock – not everything Jago might wish for, but, as they say, there’s a war on.
He’s 42 and a bachelor – he didn’t set out not to marry, but simply hasn’t found the right person. He left school at sixteen, and at eighteen was conscripted to fight in the British Army during the Great War. Two years later the war ended, and he had to find his way back into civilian society.
In 1919 he joined the Metropolitan Police and served as a uniformed constable until transferring to the Criminal Investigation Department, first as an aide to CID, then as a detective constable. He was promoted to detective sergeant and later detective inspector. By 1940, he’s spent half his life in the Metropolitan Police.
When the Blitz is unleashed in September 1940 and the bombs start to fall on West Ham, the police are more stretched than ever. Homes are destroyed, lives are wrecked, and people struggle to maintain as normal a life as possible.
But for some, the dark hours of the blackout are the perfect cover for theft, violence, even murder. Crime doesn’t stop just because there’s a war on – and there’s no shortage of cases to keep DI Jago busy.