“A work of formidable imaginative scope the writing is so good, the language so surprisingly subtle and the characters so beautifully delineated.” —Daily Telegraph “Riveting action scenes bristle … see full wiki
I am a huge fan of Ben Elton's television work, but for the most part find his novels difficult - I think they just try too hard to be funny. But considering that this book is not humourous, and that it tackled a tragic time in history, I thought it worth a try.
I was wrong. He tackles the horror of war in the trenches with a gritty detail that is disturbing, but even then it is somewhat clinical, and the many scenarios offered really don't engage the reader. In fact it was tempting to skip over several of the battle scenes in order to move forward with the trials and tribulations of our hero.
On that point the characters are boring, a little harsh perhaps, but there is little in any of them to make us care about their adventures, hopes and desires. Many of them are so sterotyped as to be almost cut out figures.
Finally, this is touted as a mystery, but I have to admit that I figured out whodunnit in a disgracefully short period of time.
Overall, a disappointing story that I frankly found difficult to perservere with. I was tempted to give it 1 star, but decided on 2 becuase there has clearly been considerable research as to the awful inhumane conditions at the front during World War 1. But alas that doesn't save it from being a predictable story filled with bland characters.