45 of 51 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars
An Unusual Combination, 17 Nov. 2005
This new book of Ben Elton's was gripping from the first page. It is an unusual combination of a detective story set in the first world war. Using this canvas it is able to explore many of the major issues of war, morality, conscience and human dignity, as well as highlighting the terrible and wasteful tragedy that the first world war was. Of what importance is the murder of one man when governments are killing millions in the war? What is particularly well defined by Ben Elton is all the power and machinery of the state that is used to compel people to do things, that given the chance to think properly they probably would not do.
Most of this is done deftly by the author, although at times the language, not surprisingly reads as though it is a screenplay, or perhaps one's mind translates it into language that one might have heard in well known TV/screen productions. This doesn't detract from the book, which is too much of a 'page-turner' and too full of thought provoking ideas to distract the reader. The hero sometimes sounds quite stiff, but this is probably in keeping with his character and with social behaviour of the times.
As somebody who has read all of Ben Elton's books, I thought that this was his best, although don't expect the usual humour. It is quite different from the rest of his work, although still retaining the strong moral messages.