Top critical review
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Starts well, finishes less well
on 23 May 2011
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.