July 27, 2005

Gratuitous Llama Book Review


A Good, Clean Fight by Derek Robinson.

A good, but not great book, in my humble opinion. In this novel, Derek Robinson tells the story of the war behind the lines in the Libyan Desert in 1942, following the exploits of a daring SAS ground force and a squadron of British-piloted P-40 fighters on the one hand, and their Luftwaffe antagonists on the other.

The story itself it quite fascinating, but I think the novel suffers from a lack of pacing. Too much that should be explored in greater depth -character development, relationships and even some of the battle descriptions - blows past at a furious clip while other, less important matters receive perhaps too much attention. In this, the book reminds me very much more of Robinson's WWI novel Goshawk Squadron, which I also found jerky and rushed, rather than of his subsequent Piece of Cake, in which I think Robinson got the flow just about bang on. As I say, I don't think he's able to repeat it here.

And speaking of Piece of Cake raises another, related issue. That book told the story of Hornet Squadron as it fought the Battles of France and Britain. In this novel, set two years later, Hornet has been transferred to the desert. Several of the characters from the previous novel - Fanny Barton, "Uncle" Kellawy, "Skull" Skelton and "Pip" Patterson reappear here, but there is hardly any continuity. Their characters are, in several cases, radically different from their previous incarnations, yet no explanation is given for this. And speaking of reincarnation, we also see the reappearance of Air Vice Marshall "Baggy" Bletchley. In Piece of Cake, he died in a German strafing attack on an RAF base. Yet here he is again, fit as a fiddle and sound as a dollar, with no explanation forthcoming. GCF is deliberately pitched as a sequel to P of C, yet none of these gaps are filled in. Very annoying, especially if you're a fan of P of C, which I am.

All in all, I'd recommend the book. But not enthusiastically.

Posted by Robert at July 27, 2005 02:30 PM | TrackBack

Should the Air Vice Marshal be "sound as a pound" even if he died in the other book?

Posted by: The Maximum Leader at July 27, 2005 02:55 PM

Alternate universe.

Hey, by the way, have you ever read Fitzroy MacLean's "Eastern Approaches?" One of my three or four favorite books of all time. Touches on the SAS in the desert, as well as in Yugoslavia. Great stuff.

Posted by: The Colossus at July 27, 2005 03:09 PM
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