Wednesday, June 22, 2022

30. Partisans by Alistair Maclean

Don't judge a book by its cover
I really need to stop reading later Alistair Maclean's. Perhaps I should just stop reading him altogether, which was my previous policy for most of my reading life.  I got sucked into this one because of the awesome 80s Fontana wrap-around cover.  It was a tough read.

The main problem is that despite a great setting (Italy and Yugoslavia in the height of WWII), nothing really happens. Maclean puts a bunch of mainly uninteresting characters together and I guess thought that was enough to keep the reader interested.  Ostensibly, elite Yugoslavian soldier spy guy Peter Petersen gets the assignment to escort a spoiled and naive brother and sister radio operators and their equipment to some unkown place in the Yugoslav mountains.  It's not clear why and right from the beginning there is all this distrust and doubletalk which I think was supposed to be suspense and spycraft, but was just confusing and boring.  It's all made worse by having all the good guys act like British public school boys despite supposedly being Yugoslavian and the women all portrayed as righteous, erroneously moralistic spazzes.

The main character is particularly annoying as he seems to already know everything and we keep either getting him, the other characters or the author himself pointing out how smart and great he is (often to undercut the women's outrage that he has duped them once again).  I am fine with the elite male protagonist kicking ass, but in Partisans he doesn't actually do anything all that cool.  It's all tell and no show.  

In the end, there is some big reveal that we all saw coming a mile away (spoiler, the protagonists are not actually German-allied royalists but partisans!!!).  Just really not great. 

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