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Of war and the man, I sing,
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This review is from: At Break of Day (Hardcover)
This third in Elizabeth Speller's WW1 suite does not make a 'trilogy': it is a departure from the detective genre of Captain John Emmett and Kitty Easton, both of which are set post-war and feature Captain Bartram, an amateur sleuth, still grappling with his war experience. So it is the characters of 4 men that drives this novel, not the plotted narrative of a whodunnit. Like stage tragedy, we know the outcome of the Battle of the Somme from the start - the fascination is in watching it unfold through these four viewpoints. There is a brief and pleasing appearance of Lawrence Bartram - many interwoven connections are made within the book, but this one crosses the gap to her previous books.
Break of Day begins as war descends on Europe, and follows the four men from very different backgrounds - three British, one French - to inexorable conclusions (no spoilers). All are well-drawn and provide contrasting themes. Some may lament the absence of similarly developed female characters, but this was overwhelmingly a man's war. It is 'of war and the man' that Elizabeth Speller sings so well.