HURLEY became one of our finest crime fiction writers with his excellent series of modern-day police procedurals set in Portsmouth.

The dozen-or-so novels grew increasingly complex and gripping as he explored the relationship between a detective, a crooked cop and local gangster.

Unfairly, he never reached the mainstream recognition of Ian Rankin, Peter Robinson or Mark Billingham, but he was up there with the best.

Hurley has been off the radar in recent years, writing novels for a small publisher that explore the clandestine world of espionage and military politics during the Second World War.

These books are equally as deep and enthralling as the Portsmouth novels, and while each story stands alone the characters occasionally intersect, and Hurley is gradually creating its own fictional world.

Blood of the Wolf is one of the best of the series – known variously as Wars Within and – with a story set inside the Third Reich in 1942 as the German military achieves early success invading Russia.

But the tide is about to turn, and as this story slowly becomes more involved as his characters find themselves in the winter hellhole of Stalingrad.

The hero, if there is ever a hero in a Graham Hurley novel, is Werner Neumann, a journalist writing for the Ministry of Propaganda who has become a confidant of leading Nazi Joseph Goebbels.

Goebbels knows the mood of the country and the secrets of his fellow Nazis, and he is a master manipulator both in work and his personal life. Neumann becomes too involved in these manipulations.

For a compelling war story that's more about the people, the politics and the pain of war rather than the action, they don't come any better than this.

David Knights