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Customer Review

on 9 October 2009
The best historical fiction is written by those few authors (such as George McDonald Fraser or Bernard Cornwell) who really know and love history. James Holland qualifies on both counts as the author of several popular and readable histories of lesser know campaigns from WW2. He's recently turned his hand to fiction with 'Sgt Jack Tanner' a character straight out of the 'commando' comics I read as a kid.

Its great 'daring do' adventure very much in the Sharpe mould. Its not 'literature' but its fun, well researched action. The plot is quite simple- a little action in England regarding black marketeers then straight to France. Tanners platoon of Yorks Rangers are rapidly cut off in the mess of the German invasion of France and he's left trying to make his way back to Dunkirk to meet up with the rest of the regt. His life is greatly complicated by an incompetent Captain and an evil company sgt major who tried to have Tanner framed and shot for a crime he didn't commit in India. Sharpe fans will agree that CSM Blackstone is very much in the Obidiah Hakeswill mould. The story mixes fact and fiction nicely and covers the British counterattack near Amiens that was only stopped by Rommels novel use of 88mm Flak guns against British tanks and the massacre of 90 men of the Norfolk regt by the 3rd SS 'Topenkopft' division. As with most historical fiction Tanner seems to be where history is made more than is entirely probable but how else is the action going to keep coming? If it has one flaw its that it ends rather abruptly with Tanner and his men very rapidly back in england with very little mention of the actual evacuation from Dunkirk

The series clearly has a few more good installments to come: Tanner makes several mentions of 'dark incidents' in his past and refers to pre-war campaigns in India and Palesting so the series has potential to go backwards in times as well as follow the course of WW2. I'm looking forward to the third installment!
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