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on 18 October 2009
This is a fantastic book. I could not put it down. Have only just discovered William Broderick and so far have bought everything he has written. His style is easy to read and there are always twista and turns in the plots.
The unifying factor of including father Anselm adds interest.
A thoroughly enjoyable book.
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on 24 August 2014
Best of the Father Anselm novels so far.
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on 23 June 2015
I didn't like is as much as I expected.
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on 30 March 2015
An unusual concept of a WW1 detective novel written in present times. Such a sad and tragic story of deceit bravery bullying the down right brutality and futility of warfare. Very thought provoking.
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VINE VOICEon 17 February 2014
The Great War continues to offer a rich, emotive background around which to set a novel, and Brodrick has used it convincingly enough in this third Father Anselm book. It is thoughtfully done, but the writing and plotting becomes over-intricate, and by the closing stages of the story I just found myself thinking that this could have had more impact with less pages.

The tragedy of the war and the fate of deserters is well known, and used to powerful effect here, but it's been done so much better elsewhere. The late Reginald Hill covered ths subject in one of his finest Dalziel and Pascoe novels, and Brodrick lacks the wit and humour of Hill to offer another shade to his rather stodgy and at time slightly smug style of writing.

Inspired to read this by the fact it had won a CWA award, I was, like some other reviewers here, slightly disappointed it has to be said. The book packed in too much and became repetitive and laboured, which in turn reduced its dramatic impact and wider point about the inhumanity of the Great War and facets of how men behaved that perhaps they wanted to hide.
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on 11 January 2013
My least favorite of the Anselm novels so far. The story seemed very familiar and overlaps with Private Peaceful by Michael Morpurgo and other stories about those shot for cowardice in the 1st World War. There didn't seem enough Father Anselm, the story almost works itself out with the assistance of a very helpful chap at the Kew archives. I found the bits about Ireland
a bit baffling. Overall I felt some editing would have been useful I almost gave up wading through parts of the story and there was no mystery to keep me turning the pages.
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on 21 December 2009
I couldn't shake the conviction that Brodrick is a good writer but that his publisher had failed to advise him well on some big faults. I also don't think that using a hero based on himself (but the other way around) helps.

Brodrick makes a fine job of interleaving the events of the Great War with the modern "investigation". I love the general subject matter and it all seems historically OK (although the convenient long-life of some of the older men stretches belief). However, the plot eventually meanders to a standstill and the author starts to flounder. We get a very laboured search for the heart of the matter during about the last 100 pages when about 20 would have punched harder and better. Fine to say that one man found meaning from anothers death and sacrifice but less meaningful to say it in so many ways.

The characters didn't help. Herbert is good, Anselm is ponderous and shallow while the Irish family pander to some vicious stereotyping along the lines of "I come from a really rural part of Eire therefore I am deep, mystical and I am at one with the sky and the land".

The final ceremony reminded me of a poor Hollywood film floundering in sentimentality as it fails to find meaning in a self-made melodrama. If I was the publisher I would have been frank: explore the characters more, get to grips with the heart of this lawyer/monk (or do us all a favour and dump him) and let the depth in your writing ability speak louder than your set-piece series of denouements. Who is Anselm? Is he religious? What does he really think beyond wanting the occasional drink and listening to some jazz? What about that French lady; she seemed to deserve a lot more attention than Mr PRO "sterotype scottish" Martin but got less. The list goes on. Also, is the answer to every difficult problem really to be found by devoting oneself to near silence in a Priory? If you think so then tell us why.

In summary, Brodrick has talent but he is playing out of position. He should read Derek Robinson and learn from him.
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on 28 June 2014
V.good
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on 23 November 2009
I am sorry to burst the bubble here.This is a moving , interesting book.It gave me a fascinating insight into WW1 executions . However the story is relatively simple and the core of the story is repeated often throughout the text . At times I almost found myself shouting "Alright ! I get it". The text at times reads like poetry and I enjoyed many aspects of this book but I genuinely feel that the author uses over 370 pages where 200 would have been enough.
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on 31 December 2009
I have just finished reading this excellent book, it was an intriquing read well worth buying.
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