The Chatham Rats by David Mariner (1969) was an interesting, plunging, hair-raising espionage tale.
It starts out kind of slow--only it's not really slow. It's more the fact that you know no more than the characters, or less actually, and so it's a bit confusing for the first couple of chapters. The story itself, told in third person, but with one main character and about three other sub-main-characters who most of the action is focused around, is intriguing, baffling, and highly terrifying if you were actually there.
Set in the Mediterranean in June of 1941, the entire story covers less than a week in the life of the crew of the ship H.M.S. Wildcat. (Perhaps I ought to add here that the author is British.) Following is the blurb from the inner cover:
They deliberately betrayed the British Mediterranean Fleet, fought a tragic action with unwitting British destroyers, defied the might of the Luftwaffe, the Italian High Command, the Prussian Gestapo, even a crack Wehrmacht paratroop regiment, and all to buy two years of time. They were called the Chatham rats. They wore Italian uniforms, carried cyanide capsules, fought secretly with a fast Italian destroyer they had captured during the Battle of Matapan, and they had one aim - to find and exterminate the men who designed the first guided missile in history - the radio-controlled marine glider bomb.
I had one main issue with the book: language. While definitely not as dicey as it could have been, there was just enough of it for me to really notice. I was able frequently enough to see it coming and kind of skip it, but I still would put a warning out there.
I would also like to allude to certain sexual references that really were not necessary, though, I don't suppose, are entirely unrealistic for a group of fighting men. Also, I would not say that the worldview was overly Christian though there was no denial of God as of such--but then again, even full-blown modern British television still has an element of cultural acknowledgement of God.
Overall then, I enjoyed the story, but would not say, "Y'all! You just have to read this here book!" Particularly since it is a fictional tale...
By Dorothy Sayers (and Robert Eustace); originally published 1930.
I do not usually write reviews of the mysteries I read (partly because I do not quite know how one reviews a mystery), but I thought I might be able to do one on this particular story.
Anyway, this is, of course, a murder mystery. It is written as though one is reading the compilation of documents that one party sent to another. It's really a rather fascinating techinque because you get mulitple angles of the same incidents and at times they are thoroughly contradicting.
Without giving any details on the story, I wanted to mention an underlying subject (one might call it theme) that is brought up time and time again through it--the question "What is life?" It is never really answered, but you get several different attempts at answers from men ranging from churchmen to chemists and other scientists. In fact, I got thoroughly lost in one particular conversation.
Which brings up another point...I find this more probably in Sayers books than I do, say in Agatha Christie's, but with these (primarily) British mystery writers in the late 1920's-'40's, I find that my rough knowledge of "modern" philosophy comes in handy. There are things that I would completely miss if I didn't know just a little about it.
Suffice to say, it was an interesting read, one of the most unique set-ups I have ever observed in a mystery, and I am happy to say, justice was served in the end. Not 'poetical' justice, but real justice. I would recommend it to fellow mystery enthusiasts .
A Reformed Presbyterian girl who enjoys a good movie or a good book any ol'
Note: All images picked up online. No copyright infringment intended.