Life and Death > Historical Mystery Writing

A WW1 Crime Novel

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G'day everyone,

I have laboured over story ideas for my first novel and I thought why not combine two of greatest passions, history and crime novels.

I've come across the murder of a young woman in Sydney in 1914 that was never solved, so that got my imagination ticking. Why not write a mystery novel about a detective investigating the murder of a woman in Sydney, who then has to follow that murderer to France during WW1 and the western front. I also started to develop my main character as a man married into high society, who refuses to enlist and go to war because he doesn't believe in legalised murder, but out of a sense of duty, he finally enlists to find his killer. That's the plot in a nutshell, and really looks at the home-front in Australia at the time, and how divided we were.

I've come up with a few names for my main character, just wanted to run them past you all and see if anyone has a preference for period, setting and character:

Jack Hawthorn, Jack Remington, Harry Starling, Vic Ryder. All have Detective in front of the name. He is in his mid-to-late twenties in 1914, and really need a name that reflects his strong sense of duty and moral code. Any suggestions would be really helpful. Thankyou.

Dave Freas:
Welcome to MWF, Jazzman.

My personal choices are Jack Hawthorn (or maybe Hawthorne?) and Harry Starling.

But I was wondering if Australia might have had conscription during the war and your main character got drafted in spite of his beliefs.  Or if he was a policeman, could he be exempt from being drafted into the military?

Also, if he was a detective, would he really need to enlist to pursue the killer?  A civilian on a ship full of soldiers on their way to France might be a scenario full of tension - the soldiers wondering why this fit young guy isn't in uniform.

Just a few thoughts.

Hope this helps.


Thankyou Dave for your reply, it's actually a really good scenario that I didn't consider that could add another layer of angst that the book might need, and also give him another layer of feeling like an outsider. Awesome.

Australia didn't have conscription although the government tried twice to bring it in but both times was rejected in a referendum, even though most of the fighting men believed it was a good idea. But most men that didn't enlist were still ostracised by society and they were seen as cowards and shirking their duty to their nation and the English empire. It was a very divisive time in Australian history but one that has largely been forgotten due to our nationalistic pride in a war that a lot of people believe built the country.

Do you think Jack Hawthorne sounds working class?

Old Bill:
Welcome Jazzman.

Interesting plot...Dave had some good ideas too. I like Detective Vic Ryder. We are talking a police detective, right? Would he be taking the investigation overseas personally or officially...maybe he knew the victim?

Good luck!

Old Bill

Dave Freas:
If your MC is upper class, maybe he wouldn't go by Jack or Vic.  Maybe he'd insist on John or Victor.  Or maybe he's so used to being called John or Victor, he doesn't respond to Jack or Vic - giving others the feeling he's a bit of a snob who's too good for regular blokes.

Hope this helps.



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