Crossword Ends In Violence (5) - James Cary

D-day is imminent and top-secret code-words OVERLORD and NEPTUNE have appeared in a national newspaper, the latest in a series of words suspiciously connected to the top-secret landing the Allies are preparing.


A national emergency, everything points to crossword compiler, teacher Carl Bookman. Even more incriminating is the fact that he is of German origin, with a brother working on breaking German codes at Bletchley Park.


Sixty years later, crossword compiler John Fellowes is tirelessly continuing the work that his grandfather Carl started at the Bookman Bureau. Times are bleak as computers are challenging crossword setters’ livelihoods and the bureau faces closure.


When John discovers his grandfather may have been a Nazi spy, he is devastated and sets out to clear his name. With the help of Amanda, the bored but enterprising accountant from downstairs and his colleagues Turner, a deeply embittered chess grandmaster and Overend, a hyper-intelligent bridge player, he attempts to find out the truth behind the crosswords.


Crosswords Ends in Violence (5) is a quintessentially British comedy thriller, set in two eras and on both fronts of WW2, bursting with codes, Nazis, crosswords, chess masterminds, Churchill himself, and much, much more…


The bookman bureau is a family owned crossword setting business that was passed down to our main character John fellows from his grandfather Carl bookman. Along with his colleagues, this unconventional bunch unveil on an unexpected journey full of twists and turns on the quest to hunt down the truth after Fellows’ great uncle has passed away and reveals that his grandfather was apparently a Nazi spy who passed on messages hidden within crosswords..


The story follows different perspectives from the Second World War to present day, with each chapter headed either across (present day) or down (during the war)

At the start, I found this a little difficult to get my head around– this is my own fault as I started reading the book only a few chapters at a time here and there when I had the chance, which made jumping back into the book a little confusing! However, the latter two thirds of the book where I managed to sit down and really delve into it were highly interesting, and the duel timeline perspectives and the parallel storylines were intriguing and cleverly  intertwined, with the war time chapters providing a back story to fill in the discoveries and clues in the present day. 


These storylines complimented each other exquisitely and to include Bletchley Park, Chess, code breaking, conspiracy and hacking without causing too much head scratching is quite a feat!  Although, saying that, there are several parts throughout the book where the author stamped his love for puzzles with the odd reference  that made me go ‘Huh?!’ and pause with a quizzical expression !



There is a nice mixture of characters throughout the book from the quirky bunch at the bookman bureau consisting of a crossword compiler, chess grandmaster, a bridge setter and the addition of the female accountant from downstairs in the present day, and the alternating perspectives during the war consisting of carl bookman and the investigative majors to the chess grandmaster in the prisoner of war camp.  Although quite a plethora of personalities, I like that the characters are well realised and easily imaginable thanks to Cory’s descriptions.



 It wasn’t something I would have usually reached for, but I am so glad that I did.  Overall, this is a fun well-paced and structured story, full of humour, intrigue and adventure all packed into around 300 pages – go check it out!


I was sent a free copy in exchange for an honest review