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Exciting tale of one of the war's wrenching tragedies
on 11 May 2001
In a war filled with terrible shocks, the fall of Singapore in 1941 was one of the worst. Impregnable from the sea, Singapore collapsed before a Japanese force fighting its way through the 'impenetrable' jungle of the Malay Peninsula. Only at the last moment did the civilians on Singapore realize the danger they were in. And then they'd do anything to get out.
This novel features two of Reeman's standard characters: the crusty, traditional, martinet career Royal Navy officer, and the young R.N. reserve officer, unpolished but skilled, and increasingly experienced as the war progresses. As is common in many Reeman novels, the tension between these two men drives much of the story in the early part of the book, until they both realize that, as another hero of the era might have put it, the problems of two little people don't amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world. By the time they figure that out, they've got bigger problems, like how to make it out alive.
This novel has many of the things that cause some people to call Reeman's novels 'formulaic.' But I think it's a darn good formula, personally, and Reeman is a good enough story teller that even if some of the characters seem vaguely familiar, the story itself still draws you in and keeps you reading.