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Publisher's Summary

March 1938. The Germans take Vienna without a shot being fired. Covering Austria for the English press is a young journalist named Rod Troy. Back home, his younger brother joins the CID as a detective-constable.

November 1938. Kristallnacht. The Jews leave Vienna - Sigmund Freud with an American escort on a sleeper train, Josef Hummel tied to the underside of a box car.

June 1940. Sergeant Troy is seconded to Special Branch to help round up the 'enemy' aliens, among who are Hummel and his brother Rod. Rod and Hummel are interned on the Isle of Man... Meanwhile a lunatic is killing Rabbis in the East End of London. Troy asks for time off from Special Branch to return to his true calling...Murder.

©2008 John Lawton (P)2008 Oakhill Publishing Ltd.

Critic Reviews

"One of the unsung (at least until now) heroes of the genre, as good as LeCarré." ( Chicago Tribune)

What listeners say about Second Violin

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
Profile Image for Antoine
  • Antoine
  • 10-03-2011

History and Mystery, woven together beautifully

John Lawton delivers again on his trademark blending of police procedural and political history set in the WWI and post-war period. We've previously net Bill (not Winston) Churchill and Kruschev among others. Winston is back this time with Harol McMillan in tow and others.

I'd read the earlier books and was casting around for my first ever choice of an audio book. this one made the cut, and it's a terrific choice for several reasons. the chapters, in Lawton style, are short and punchy.

There are lots of voices and a wealth of accents, which providing you have the ear for it (my Mother was English and I live in French Canada), the reader does justice to, as the story moves from toff Brits to cockneys and Lanchashiremen, Nazi SS officers, Austrian Jewish tailors, and Italian restaurateurs.
The story unfolds against the backdrop of the closing days of the peace after WWI, the German Anchluss and 'kristallnacht' and vivid descriptions of beatings of Jews by the SA in Vienna.

It takes a while for us to be reintroduced to Troy, our newly made Scotland Yard man, but he's the same, albeit younger Troy of the later (earlier written) stories. ...and some of the same gorgeous women reappear.

A great introduction to how absorbing a good audio book can be. - Antoine Maloney

3 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Dexter
  • 22-03-2009

There will always be an England

I can not see how other reviewers can rate this so low. This series is trying to bring you British History like the Flashman Series, but at a much deeper level. The author shows us parts of British society reacting to crisis and change during a tumultuous 30 year period. Not quite a British Yoknapatawpha - the streets Inspector Troy walks are real - but close to it. Audible should carry the whole series!!!

3 people found this helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • Dennis L
  • 11-07-2016

Just a story

I kept expecting the story to go somewhere. It doesn't. The history is somewhat interesting and the perspective of the WW2 (pre, during & some post) times in regards to bigotry and the view of European and other continents on the views toward the Jews is enlightening for most of us who obviously didn't live through those times. But that is all there is. Some made up stories that don't go anywhere other than show the unfairness of those who shouldn't have been treated the way they were due to the prejudices of the times. Author's prejudices comes through many times as well. Not worth the trouble unless you need to learn about the prejudices of the time, the hatred of the Jews of that time period and maybe the mindset of people going through a war.

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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  • R
  • 22-06-2011

author's propaganda bias almost spoils good story

I read(listen) to books for information, entertainment and not to be talked down to from a speaker's podium when an author inserts character diatribes as a means of pushing his own political agenda. Especially when the author makes motive transparent by inserting a gratuitous ad hominam attack on President George W. Bush totally irrelevant to the time of and the plot of the book while preening through his acknowledgements at the end of the book. London during the Blitz and the characters were absorbing. At times, however it seems the author created more characters than he could control. Several chapters would be devoted to a story line and suddenly the author would move to another group of characters. This is common in this type of writing but in the end I was left feeling that the author had forgotten the story of the bypassed characters and made up for it in a concluding summary of what happened to .... Other than these flaws I enjoyed the book because I treated the author's political posturing as just that. His shopworn socialist comments in the supposed utterances of H G Wells and his communist rantings in the words of a Jewish detainee are understood for what the were -not needed to advancement of the story and empty words to be ignored

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
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  • Mary Ann
  • 13-11-2008

It just does not get worse then this

One would think that a $70.00 book would be readable.This one is not. Plot is tenous, reader adds to the unreadabilty, Germans have heavy English accents.I could not finish half the book.Very.very bad.

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
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  • Geostudy
  • 25-11-2008

disappointed

I found the plot written to be of interest, but the book was not so. The narrator was indeed heavy and hard to listen to, the script equally so. As I listened, I found my interest wandering after 5 - 10 minutes, unable to concentrate on such a story.
I wish I had not wasted my money on such a book.

1 person found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Peter Thomas
  • 27-09-2010

A Triumph

I have not read any of his earlier books and this is the sixth in the series fortunately in Second Violin, Lawton takes us back to the early days of Troy?s career in a story set against the run up to the start of the Second World War. So not having read any of the others does not put you at a disadvantage. However, almost half of this book goes by without any real involvement from our detective. This is a challenging listen it deals with the brutality of the Nazi regime, it brings you face to face with racism and the horrors that took place while Britain tried to appease Hitler it looks at what it means to be British. It has strong language and violence but it is also enthralling.

A typical crime novel this certainly isn?t, wonderfully written and brilliantly narrated it most certainly is. In my view it?s a triumph.

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Philip
  • 01-05-2009

Gripping!

I found the Second Violin fascinating. True it dealt with the horrors of the Third Reich without pulling any punches but I do not think it does any of us any harm to be reminded of the consequences of racism and bigotry. If you enjoy stories based around the Second World War you will enjoy this audio book!

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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  • S. L. BESFORD-FOSTER
  • 16-01-2011

Best listen I have had for ages

Very good book, full of interesting characters, dark and sombre in places, light and funny in others. A thoughtful, well written and engaging book with a narration that is timed to perfection. Top marks from me.

1 person found this helpful

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  • The Curator
  • 26-11-2019

Please give us a clue of chronology

This series spans a very wide period and the books don’t appear in chronological order. It’s very irritating.

This is one of the ‘early ones’ and although written in the Bush era, it’s perfect for our own time, mulling, as it does what it takes to belong; to a community, to a nation.

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    2 out of 5 stars
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  • Tommy
  • 11-03-2017

What a strange book.

190+ chapters make for a very disruptive flow. The narrative is disjointed. Then story itself is good but needs some refinement.

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  • richiesan
  • 22-08-2016

Not quite what you might expect

Any additional comments?

Although one of the main characters is a policeman, this is not a police procedural. The focus of the book shifts from one character to another and from place to place, with only slight links between them. The murders that purport to be the subject of the book get dealt with only in the last quarter of the book and most of the book has nothing to do with them.

A word of praise for Lewis Hancock who has done an outstanding job with the narration.

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  • pixie
  • 26-01-2016

enjoyable listen

I love anything set in wartime, story is full of the era's detail.....have read Lawton before..well worth a listen.

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • catsatcastle
  • 06-03-2015

A good listen

Where does Second Violin rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

About the middle. Some books I listen to countless times (even crime novels if they are also good novels and beautifully read) but this one is not one of them. It's not bad and the narration is good but the book as a whole is not so engaging that I want to listen to it again soon. I may come back to it later though.

What did you like best about this story?

I very much enjoy novels which take the reader back to the early times of a character first seen in later life. I read the second Frederick Troy book, Old Flames, years ago. I didn't like it and that may have been because of the style and not liking Troy himself. He is younger here and although he is not likeable he has his good points. I also enjoyed the writing style, which is surprising. Lawton is describing horrific events but does it in quite a sardonic way. It shouldn't work but it does, hearing very shocking events described in that way might lessen the impact but for me it made them all the more powerful.

Which scene did you most enjoy?

All of the scenes in the internment camp were very affecting. There is character study, men from all walks of life bonding under pressure, some very funny scenes in the middle of some very moving ones.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

It's too long for that but I listened to it over the course of three or four days and it never dragged.

Any additional comments?

This may be a novel about a policeman in London during the second world war but the crime aspect is almost peripheral to the main themes. Lawton has shown very well Europe in turmoil and shocking racism both studied and casual.

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    4 out of 5 stars
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Profile Image for Vash
  • Vash
  • 19-01-2015

War history more than crime.

As a pice of war history this is very informative but also disturbing.As always it is well written and read. I was deeply engrossed.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • KG07
  • 25-08-2014

more please

excellent story, beautifully read, finished it too quickly.
I couldn't stop listening to this story; I found it a fascinating portrayal of Austria and England in 1939-40 when the Germans took over Vienna and then the start of WWII in London.

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