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Light on detail, light on sources,
This review is from: Odd Man Out : The Story of the Singapore Traitor (Hardcover)
Purportedly the story of Patrick Heenan, disaffected Indian Army officer turned Japanese story, "Odd Man Out: The Story of the Singapore Traitor" is surprisingly light on the detail of the central character of the book, and therein is a major flaw in the book.
While there is reasonable and generally reliable sources regarding Heenan's scholastic career in England (but not much on his birth in New Zealand and early upbringing in Burma), sources supporting the assertions of the authors' regarding the spying exploits of Heenan are unfortunately slim, and perhaps understandably so given the chaos that was Singapore in early 1942. However, some sources apparently didn't want to be identified, and the authors also state the "Heenan affair" was hushed up by many in the know. This is reputedly justified on account of the "dishonour" his exposure would mean to Heenan's Indian Army regiment. I personally found this a little hard to fathom, particularly given the period of time that has elapsed since the fall of Singapore and the independence of India. In the end, this leaves very little substantive facts about the key events that make Heenan so infamous, and is the very reason for this book.
Given the lack of hard facts about their man Heenan, in order to fill out their book, authors Elphick and Smith have expounded on life in pre-war Malaya, and the depth of penetration of Japanese intelligence. This, for me at least, is the more interesting part of the narrative - which is why I rated this book two stars. Unsurprisingly, this portion is much better sourced than much of the rest of the book. The authors also go into the Malaya campaign itself, although not intensively. I did notice that there seemed to be a needless reference to the conduct of the Australians in Singapore, perhaps not surprising given the tone of Elphick's later book "Singapore: The Pregnable Fortress", which paid great attention to the conduct of Australian troops in Singapore.
At times, the book descends into what appears to be mere rumour rather than substantive fact. One sensationalist account is given of a pair of British ground crew working on an airfield being interrupted by a strange Colonel and Sergeant-Major, who apparently were up to no good. A girlfriend of Heenan's is suitably fitted out as a kind of "Mata Hari". Ultimately, this means it is difficult to draw any firm conclusions from "Odd Man Out". I am slightly amazed that the authors were able to contrive a whole book from such scanty material.