In a style reminding John Buchan and Erskine Childers the hero of Ludlow,Callum Jardine, a typical British old boy fights together with his SIS chum the good fight against Fascism and Nazism in 1938 in France ,Spain and mostly Czechoslovakia.
This is the third volume of the Road to War trilogy of Jack Ludlow and the best one.The novel is remarkable not only for its clever and original plot but also for the faithful and honestly realistic recreation of that era and its atmosphere,showing the doubts uncertainties and divided loyalties existing in GB and Europe on the big political issues of the times.It is worth mentioning that this is not a simple them and us story but it shows the divisions within the British Establishment and the European ones on the significance and the handling of the big political issues of the time such as Spain,Mittel Europa,the beginnings of the Jewish persecution and Hitler,the appeasement atmosphere and the undercurrents working against it.
The principal characters are well sketched and their Britishness is only the external amusing shell,they are deeply and believably described as real commited fighters and their competence and skills are the qualities of the experienced operative not those of a James Bond.
Faithful to their British persona they do the right thing less by deep political conviction and more from their sense of decency,fairness and old fashioned patriotism.
Cal Jardine undertakes the mission to establish whether Czechoslovakia will fight if attacked by Germany,how the German Generals will accept this order by Hitler,all that in Neville Chamberlain's England of appeasement and avoidance of war at the expense of Hitler's victim countries.
It is a well written story with the twists and turns of a good thriller but it is a bit more than that,a glimpse at another era through both details and big events skillfully weaved together.
The pace of the novel is not modern hectic but matches the pace of those times fast or slow as it should be.It would appeal a lot to readers that know something of the history of that period and those places which are accurately,stylishly and honestly recreated in the book