Monday, 5 August 2013

HISTORICAL FICTION REVIEW: The Devil's Pact - James Holland

Release Date: 18/07/13
Publisher:  Bantam


July 1943. With North Africa secured, the Allies launch an invasion of Sicily, and the 2nd Battalion, King's Own Yorkshire Rangers are in the van of the assault on the Italian beaches. Now B Company Commander, Tanner's promotion has brought him fresh problems. Not only has his new Battalion Commander decided to make his life as difficult as possible, but he and his men soon find themselves battling against some of the toughest troops in the Wehrmacht. In the bitter fighting that follows, Tanner witnesses a new kind of warfare where the end will justify the means. Erstwhile outlaws, the Sicilian mafia are supposedly on the side of the Allies but their real purpose is feathering their own nests. And it is not just the Mafia who are playing dirty. It soon becomes clear that in the quest to force Italy out of the war, compromises and brutal choices need to be made - choices where the lines between right and wrong have become horribly blurred. Forced to question the cause for which he has fought so long, Tanner and his trusted sidekick, Sykes, find themselves embroiled in a fight that has become deeply personal, where they have to use all their resolve, skill and experience if they are to have any chance of survival.


Whilst there’s a certain amount of scope that can be taken with historical fiction, the closer to modern times you get the more information is available about troop movements, attack plans as well as having living memory from people who were actually there. Here in this latest Jack Tanner novel, James brings the scope onto Sicily bringing the modern reader to a country that quite a few have yet to visit.

Its well written, the prose is sharp and to be honest the way that the author keeps the story moving (even when describing the landscape) really does add to the reading pleasure. Add to the mix a wonderful overall arc and of course a character that you just can’t help but like and all round I’m a firmer fan than I was before starting this story.

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