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Monday, November 19, 2012

Just Finished Reading: The Odin Mission by James Holland

April, 1940. As the German army advance through Norway a hastily thrown together British force is dispatched to aid the hard pressed and heavily outnumbered Norwegian armed forces. As part of that effort Sergeant Jack Tanner, newly returned from active service in Palestine, is assigned to look after an infantry unit that has never seen action and is led by officers who resent Tanners experience and natural command abilities. After their heavy equipment is lost to U-boat attack and the promised air-support fails to arrive, Tanner and his men are forced to begin a long retreat almost as soon as they land. Separated from his unit Tanner leads the remains of his platoon into the Norwegian hills where they meet a small group of French mountain troops, Norwegian Royal Guard and a strange civilian code-named Odin who must reach British lines at all costs. With the German advance seemingly unstoppable and an elite German unit hunting Odin, Tanner certainly has his work cut out for him. But Tanner is not a man without resources and he’s certainly not going to go down without the enemy knowing that they’ve been in one hell of a fight!

I think that one of the comments on the front page pretty much nailed it – this was indeed ‘Sharpe for the Blitz years’. Tanner is a great character, an outsider being a Southerner in a unit from Yorkshire, an unknown quantity to the men he’s forced to lead after his officer retreats ahead of him, mistrusted by those above him because of his fighting experiences who resent his effortless aura of authority and above all his competence and coolness under fire. No doubt they would be horrified to discover that he has modified his standard issue Lee-Enfield, with his own money, into a highly effective sniper rifle – totally against regulations damn it…!

Told with gusto and a Boys-Own love of the dramatic all action tale this was a definite page turner. Just don’t expect any kind of nuance or subtlety between these covers. In this story the Germans are as bad as they come and the Brits despite being out of their depth and often incompetent, are at least on the side of the angels. Full of daring do and heroism, great fight scenes and dramatic escapes I can honestly say that I really liked this romp of a novel. I shall definitely be looking forward to meeting Jack again in his next adventure when he faces a much bigger challenge – the retreat from Dunkirk!     


smellincoffee said...

You know, this is the first bit of WW2 fiction I've heard of other than Jeff Shaara's trilogy, or Turtledove's endless series. Sounds fun!

CyberKitten said...

Oh, I probably have 10-15 novels based in WW2 in various piles and many more in my possible buy folder..... But as I've got 12 books in my review pile presently none of them will be reviewed here until early next year.