Thursday, March 24, 2005

Book 13

"Hart's War" by John Katzenbach

Mostly well written and very engaging, "Hart's War" is essentially a whodunnit set in a Luftwaffe-run POW camp for Allied fliers in World War 2. A new prisoner is brought in to the US section of the camp, one of the Tuskegee fliers (a group of African-American fighter pilots). Straight away the camp fixer (Captain Vic Bedford) starts in on the racial slurs and aggro. The new pilot (one Lt. Scott) doesn't make things easier by being a moody loner and so when Bedford winds up murdered, the young black man is the prime suspect. And so now he's on trial and it's up to Lt. Tommy Hart to get him off. Did I mention that this is a capital crime, or did you get that?

The prose style is smooth - for the most part - and the plot progresses nicely. The legalise is well handled and the situations of the prisoners, if not the murder and the trial, are based on the author's dad's experiences as a POW in a Luftwaffe camp. My criticism comes from what I can only assume to be sloppy editing. Too often Katzenbach reuses words or misuses the British slang. Too often I had to re-read a paragraph because of muddy attribution. I really did enjoy this book, but it was annoyingly clunky in parts.

Three crumbling escape tunnels out of five.


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