Colleen McCullough’s novel An Indecent Obsession is emotionally raw tale told with restraint and respect.
The story begins as World War II is about to end for men in Australian military hospital “troppo” ward who broke under the stresses of jungle warfare.
Nurse Honour Lantry has just five men left in ward X: Neil, their leader, whom Honour thinks she might like to know better post-war; blind Matt; hypochondriac Nugget; sadistic Luce Daggett, who scares her; and severely withdrawn Ben Maynard, the only one Honour thinks really belongs in a mental hospital.
The men call her “Sis.”
All except Luce respect and adore her.
The group’s dynamic is upset when Sergeant Michael Wilson appears at the ward. Compared to the others, Mike is obviously normal.
Honour can’t figure him out. His paperwork says he had a violent crisis; he says he tried to kill a man.
Honour, having served in the field for the entire war, is emotionally exhausted. She allows herself to feel unprofessional interest in Mike, which provokes a crisis.
McCullough relates the story from Honour’s perspective but with a degree of distance that refuses to let Honour be exonerated when she misinterprets what her senses perceive.
As he did in his previous bestseller, The Matarese Circle, in The Bourne Identity novelist Robert Ludlum tells a story that will keep readers turning pages long past their bedtime.
Bourne is the identity assumed by a man pulled from the Mediterranean “more corpse than man,” unable to remember anything about his past, including why he has a piece of microfilm with a Swiss bank account number implanted in his hip.
In Zurich, the amnesiac takes a woman hostage—every spy story requires the hero have a woman to complicate the plot—and together in Paris they begin to piece together Jason Bourne’s origins in Southeast Asia.
Ludlum is a master storyteller. Plot is his forte. Ludnum gives his characters just enough depth to be recognizable. They learn what’s necessary to advance the plot, but they don’t grow.
A day after closing The Bourne Identity, readers may wonder how Bourne, even before being shot in the head multiple times, could have been expected to remember everything he was required to remember to implement the machination of the West’s intelligence services.
Two days later, readers may even be unable to recall the names of the main characters.
But while they’re reading, they will be totally immersed in this complex, fast-paced thriller.
The Third World War: August 1985 is not a real novel. It’s not about people; it’s about populations.
The book is classified as a fantasy: Tanks, submarines, and nuclear war heads take the place of wizards, elves, and magic wands.
Its authors are “General Sir John Hackett and Other Top-ranking NATO Generals and Advisors.”
They begin their book with three pages listing acronyms used in the text.
The text itself is written as a post-war analysis compiled at the conclusion of the war. It certainly sounds like a military analysis: Ponderous prose in passive voice.
Today’s readers will have difficulty getting past the first chapter.
The map of the world is very different today than it was in 1978 when the generals and advisors were concocting this tale: Germany, divided then, is once more reunited. The map of Africa has been redrawn, countries renamed.
What remains of interest are small bits, as, for example, the military men say socialist countries reject American-style democracy because they see it as substituting corporate rule for Soviet political rule or the assertion that Europeans distrust America’s judgment because it wasn’t invaded in WWI or WWII.
Storm Warning is an implausible and irresistible tale of heroism in unlikely places.
Novelist Jack Higgins weaves together several stories, each worthy of a novel on its own.
The book opens in Brazil in August, 1944, as Captain Berger’s three-masted German sailing ship, disguised as a Swedish vessel, sets sail for Germany 5,000 miles away.
On board is a crew of 22 men and seven passengers, five of them nuns.
If his wooden vessel survives Atlantic storms, Captain Berger will have to sail along Scotland’s treacherous western coast which, as WWII winds down, is dominated by American and British ships and planes.
In London, American doctor Janet Munro has leave from patching up air raid victims to visit her severely wounded uncle, Rear Admiral Carey Reeve on Fhada Island off Scotland.
Crossing Scotland, Janet and her Navy escort Harry Jago cross paths with Paul Gericke, who had just pulled off a U-Boat attack on Falmouth.
All the characters converge on Fhada Island just as the storm of the century whips up.
Higgins presents a rousing adventure story supported by precisely-drawn characters captured in vivid verbal snapshots.
The story has too many coincidences to withstand scrutiny, but while you are reading, Higgins will make you believe every word.
Storm Warning by Jack Higgins
Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1976, 311 p.
1976 bestseller #4. My grade: A-