This is a superb book, and Lance Wilkins is an exceptional
writer. He has a use of syntax and a writing
style which are utterly engaging and wonderfully endearing, and I found myself
gripped from start to finish. Caught in the
Crossfire is, in some ways, a very simple tale of a rescue mission, though it
is not really the story itself which is the real point of this book; that is simply
a three-act mechanism to craft this world Lance brings us into – which he does flawlessly;
you feel every bit as if you’re right there with them, in the mud, the camps,
the occupied towns of civil war-era Boston.
The author does an outstanding job of drawing us into the fear and sheer
bewilderment of the men (and women) who were fighting against their fellow countrymen,
in the name of a king they would never meet, thousands of miles away. This is a very cerebral narrative; we are
brought inside the head of the main protagonist, who fights for the
Continentals. We get to share his every thought,
every doubt, every moment of self-condemnation, in vivid detail. Moments are drawn out into long, complex
thought processes – though not in a boring or tedious way, but rather in a manner
which engages us and won’t let us go; we are there at every step with this very
young lieutenant, who single-mindedly cares only about rescuing his love, captured
during a spying mission. In some ways, the
whole book is a monologue. I have to say,
in some cases this style can be troublesome to adhere to as a reader, but in
this tale it is crafted to perfection.
This is a very engrossing and enjoyable book to read.
As I said, the plot is simple, but the composition as a whole
is grand. Lance portrays 18th
century wartime America in a way that makes it appear effortless, though I am
sure it wasn’t; there is tremendous attention to detail in this book, and the
author certainly knows his subject matter well.
Sure, perhaps the enemy are a little one-dimensional, the British redcoats
styled as typically ruthless and ill-disciplined (aren’t they always), but
character actions and interactions generally are far from your standard tropes;
they make mistakes; they have regrets; they lose their cool and they are
occasionally ambiguously neither good nor bad; sometimes they help each other;
sometimes they turn on each other – they are, to put it frankly, and for want
of a better word, human, and Lance is excellent at writing about the human
condition in the most challenging of moral circumstances.
This book is wonderful, and I enjoyed it very much. If you like historical action, gritty and
realistic, with a human touch, you’ll do well to find much better than this simple
civil war tale – highly recommended.
In : Book Reviews