At fifteen years old, Jack knocks over his evacuee host, a rather brutal farmer, and finds himself back in London. In 1940 London is in the midst of the Blitz, and Jack’s father who is a fireman on the Blue Watch of the title, is a very busy man. His mother has a new and very secret job and is living away, so Jack needs to find something to do. He is taken on as a Fire Brigade messenger, a risky job involving taking messages to various fire brigade units as the telephone system is often down. He encounters a refugee girl, Lilith who has made herself a home in a derelict house, and also becomes involved in helping the police solve a criminal gang being aided by a corrupt policeman.
There is a great deal of detail in the book of the work of the emergency services, principally of course the Fire Brigade during the Blitz, and a stark picture emerges of the life of ordinary people at this time. Jack is a resourceful lad, only seeming to exist on toast and jam with the odd pilchard, and at fifteen is doing a very adult job often in extreme danger, not only cycling through the aftermath of the bombing but also helping rescue people buried by debris. It would perhaps have been more credible for Jack to undertake such work if he had been sixteen, not fifteen? Would parents really leave a teenager to his own devices and such dangerous work?
There is a certain detachment to the writing which makes it at times a little hard to engage with Jack and his family, but the story does paint a good picture of the conditions under which people lived in the early years of the Second World War ad is certainly not short of action. Because of some of the details this is towards the top of the age range 10-14. It would be good for teenage boys who are reluctant to read.