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July 23 , 2008

Ormerod's Landing


Historians of the Second World War have hitherto omitted to mention that the first British raid on German-occupied France took place within four months of Dunkirk. It happened at midnight on September 21st, 1940, the landing being made at the small fishing town of Granville, in Normandy. The landing party consisted of a detective-sergeant of the Metropolitan Police (V Division), a young French woman schoolteacher and an ugly mongrel dog named Formidable. They were considerately brought ashore by the Germans themselves.

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George Ormerod was the detective sergeant in question, not the most imaginative of policemen, but, true to his name, most resolute in his investigations. (An ormer is a notably tenacious shell-fish of the English Channel.) While the war is being lost all around him, Ormerod remains obsessed with the mundane murder of a young woman in Wandsworth, even pursuing his investigations amongst the returning and bewildered troops.

How the investigation blazed a savage trail through rural Normandy and led to Nazi-occupied Paris, and how Marie- Th�r�se Velin and her often ruthless Resistance allies become involved with George Ormerod are questions Leslie Thomas answers as his tale unfolds. In Ormerod's Landing, an exciting and ironic tale of Britain and France in the early years of the war, he once again creates a tender, farcical world in which his unique humour and irony flourish.

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