Saturday 15 December 2018

#BookReview — Honour the Dead by John Anthony Miller #Historical #Thriller @authorjamiller

Honour the Dead
By John Anthony Miller

Six English survivors of the Great War – four men and two women – converge on Lake Como, Italy in 1921. The result: one corpse and one killer... 

Psychiatrist Joseph Barnett is treating wealthy socialite Penelope Jones for schizophrenia at a sanitarium in Como. She is convinced someone is trying to kill her.

Penelope is married to war veteran Alexander Cavendish, hero of the Battle of the Somme. Barnett knows – and hates – Cavendish from the trenches where both were officers during the battle: one was trying to save lives, the other take them.

Both men had been wounded and treated at a hospital in Amiens where Bartlett met and later married Rose who worked there as a nurse. But why does Rose also harbour an intense animosity towards Cavendish?

John Anthony Miller’s fifth crime novel Honour the Dead is a Rubik’s Cube of a murder case. Everyone is a suspect, there are motives to spare – readers will go dizzy trying to solve it...

“Honour the dead, rejoice with the living…”

Psychiatrist, Joseph Barnett, has heard that phrase more times than he cares to remember. He returned from the Great War, a broken man. He had seen things he wished no man would ever have to see. His broken body is nothing compared to the nightmares that keep him up at night and interrupt his daytime. However, he is determined to overcome the horrors and help the lost souls at his sanitarium in Como find themselves again.

The last thing he expects is to have the wife of the man who haunts his every waking moment and tortures his night, committed to his sanitarium. Penelope Jones has, on the face of it, everything anyone would ever want. She is successful, wealthy and the celebrated wife of a war hero. So what on earth possessed her to attempt suicide? And why does she insist that it was not attempted suicide, but attempted murder?

Drawn into a tangled web of deceit, Joseph has to confront his own demons while trying to determine the truth before it is too late.

Honour the Dead by John Anthony Miller is a fast-paced historical thriller that will keep you on the edge of your seat and leave you asking — who is the killer?

The sanitarium in Como is the epitome of peace. It is far away from the horrors of the Battle of the Somme. Nevertheless, Miller provides a gripping account of those horrifying 141 days in northern France through cleverly and skilfully written flashbacks. Joseph is a character that I sympathised with greatly, he is a kind and gentle man who has been to Hell and witnessed the most harrowing of incidents. When Joseph suffers these terrible flashbacks, he is once again a dazed and confused young man who cannot make sense of what he is seeing. The fear, the taste of death is particularly harrowing. Miller writes these scenes with compassion but also integrity. They were very real in the telling, which made them all the more distressing.

Joseph is haunted by the actions of one sadistic British officer, who sent young men to their death again and again, more times than not with a gun pointed at their backs. Honour the dead, is a phrase that Joseph and indeed I felt makes a mockery of their pointless deaths, as these men did not die with honour, how could they when they were being sent to their slaughter? Como is as much a refuge for Joseph as it is for his patients. It is here that he can heal, and I really hoped that he would. It was a pleasure to learn more about him, and I certainly enjoyed the emotional and incredible personal journey that he takes on the long road to peace, — if such a thing even exists after witnessing so much butchery.

Miller has a keen eye for historical detail, and he shows much sensitivity and understanding of mental health issues. Miller is careful to keep the understanding of these issues in the historical context of the time this book is set in. The knowledge of schizophrenia was very much in its infancy, so there are these exciting new theories in this story, and for me, it was interesting how quickly these theories were becoming a diagnosis. 

There are five suspects in this book, each with their own fascinating story to tell. I am not going to give away the plot, but they all have a motive for murder. I found myself becoming an amateur detective as I tried to put the pieces together, which made this story wonderfully engaging. When I thought I had everyone figured out, and when I thought I knew who the killer was, Miller would throw another curveball and I would have to change my mind and read on to find out if I was right.

Miller writes with incredible energy, and this book is vastly entertaining. Honour the Dead is utterly compelling from start to finish. If you enjoy a good murder mystery with a fabulous historical backdrop, then this book is for you.

I Highly Recommend.

Review by Mary Anne Yarde.
The Coffee Pot Book Club.

John Anthony Miller

Motivated by a life-long love of travel and history, John Anthony Miller's books are normally set in exotic locations during eras of global conflict. Characters must cope and combat, overcoming their own weaknesses as well as the catastrophes spawned by tumultuous times. He's the author of To Parts Unknown, When Darkness Comes, In Satan's Shadow, and All the King's Soldiers. He lives in southern New Jersey with his family.

Find out more about John and his books: Website • Amazon • Goodreads • Twitter.


  1. Congratulations on your award.

  2. Congratulations John. I loved the book as much as you're others. Keep up the great work!

  3. Congratulations. I thoroughly enjoyed the book & I'm anxiously awaiting the next one.


See you on your next coffee break!
Take Care,
Mary Anne xxx