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4.2 out of 5 stars
4.2 out of 5 stars
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on 14 March 2005
For those familiar with Robert Ryan's blend of authenticity, history and cliff-hanging drama this will be a rapid change into overdrive. All the solid components that come from an author who knows his facts combined with a twisting story blending past and present, in the first and third persons. Spellbinding - bring on the next please !
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on 18 September 2007
Possibly the best of Ryan's books to date and based upon a true story. It was a rather odd experience to read an article in the paper about an Australian girl searching for her father's crashed aircraft around the Italian lakes and to read a letter sent by him, to her, the daughter he had neer met on the occasion of her first birthday form the other side of the world. The article caused me to cross reference with the novel, and indeed, the letter along with its real life origins is printed at the beginning of the book and is the basis for the novel. It is not strictly a flying novel and it does skip back an to from present day to the War. a practice which normally irritates me intensely, but, strangely no so in this case! A truly fabulous story about a part of WW2 which is not much talked about and based on a true and rather chilling letter. Read it, you will not regret it!
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VINE VOICEon 1 June 2007
Perhaps this one strays much further into fiction than its predecessors but that does not detract from the enjoyment of a good story, well told. One of Ryan's greatest skills is that of detail, his accuracy is simply outstanding. In this story we have an RAF Mosquito pilot who crash lands into an Italian lake during the German occupation of 1944 who is rescued, then seconded by the local resistance fighters. In 1964 he is still in Italy running his own, one aircraft airline, when he is approached by a young woman seeking the undiscovered remains of her late father's Liberator bomber lost around the same time as his ditching. The pertinent detail of just those three aircraft and their operation is faultless. As is the revelation that the main character, Jack Kirby, was a former Isle of Man TT racer (still today the most dangerous motor sport event in the world) and again the accuracy and credibility is quite remarkable; and there's much more, a superbly engaging piece of work.
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on 3 February 2015
Like most of Robert Ryan's books, besides the thrill of the story, I again learnt a lot of history. Italy during World War 2, the fall of Mussolini, the Italian partisans of all followings, even fighting each other. The British and American liaison officers, who tried to run the partisan groups and the air drops of weapons and food and medical supplies. These drops were made by brave airmen, mostly from the British colonies. In all an excellent adventure story.
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Robert Ryan certainly knows how to write with pace and he quickly builds an interesting and absorbing mystery as the story jumps back and forth between 1964 and 1944 in the Italian alps. I know little of the activities of Italian partisans in WWII and this was main thing that attracted me to the book. I was so gripped I read three-quarters of it in one sitting. Then, however, the story began to fall apart. The first twist, as we near the end of the book, had me scratching my head in confusion, and wasn't adequately explained. The second twist just made me annoyed. I can't give it away but it just seems impossible to me to pull off. Then we have the rather convenient way that the book's hero escapes. Having enjoyed most of the book, I felt let down by it in the end: a good mystery spoiled by a contrived and ridiculous ending.

There are a number of other problems with the book too: the characterisation is weak - we never really get to know, or care about, the characters; and we actually learn a lot less about the war in the Italian alps than I had hoped. Overall then, I'd probably give it a miss, unless you're pushed for choice. It's not bad, just disappointing.
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on 9 February 2009
The first book by Mr. Ryan that I have read & notice I am possibly the first female Reviewer!

Having an interest in WW2 (having a Grandad & Dad (just)) who both served, I felt a part of this story.
Jack is a strong & likeable character and being just that little bit 'rogue-ish' eg: not having settled down, made him all the more attractive.
The story of the Italian partisans in their corner of the war interspersed with the 1960s (and linked by Bill Carr), worked well and drew me in with its exciting plot and strong sense of place.

I felt Ryan kept me guessing over whether Jack would commit to Francesca or pursue Lindy and the mysterious Fausto certainly surprised me.
The final few chapters were hugely suspenseful and rounded off the story brilliantly.
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on 9 July 2011
Good title - because the story is so slow and laboured it will send you to sleep.
The author employs the annoying habit of using the Italian word for an item followed by the english translation. I didn't find this an enjoyable read at all.Sorry.
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on 16 July 2014
After a great start this story became progressively convoluted with unnecessary details which just made parts boring. The setting and general plot are fine, but do we really need to know the minute details of the TT races (down to a particular brick wall), the hero's aircraft and the intricate historical details of the three competing Italian sides during and after WW2.

As for the twists and turns towards the end of the book - they are ridiculously unlikely and spoiled the whole thing. I actually wouldn't have minded if the final 100 pages had been missing.
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on 5 July 2014
Totally became engrossed with both story and characters. As the review title says a most enjoyable read, to say anymore I'd be tempted to give the plot away, so I'll refrain.
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on 20 May 2016
Like every other Robert Ryan I have read, a good read with lots of interest and suspense
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