A PRIVATE TRUCE by Anthony Lawman


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The good news here is that first-novelist Lawman has produced a trim and soldierly reconstruction of the 1944 Allied thrust to open up Antwerp's port via the capture of the Dutch fortress island of Walcheren; the bad news is that his love story, featuring a Dutch resistance fighter and a German officer, is much less convincing. Anna Vermeeren, 33, whose husband was executed by the SS three years ago, is now acting as an interpreter for the German military headquarters at Walcheren. . . while secretly leading an espionage trio of Dutch men. Erik Neumann, 42-year-old veteran professional soldier, is a decent sort (his ""dark brown eyes were a striking feature of his strong and interesting face"")--an anti-Nazi who's assigned by his Field-marshall to evaluate and make recommendations for the defense of Walcheren. Anna acts as his interpreter, and she slowly begins to respond to Erik's gentle humanity, evidenced in his hatred of the SS, his courteous treatment of prisoners, and his generosity to suffering civilians. Inevitably, they fall in love and into bed--a dangerous business, since Anna and her group have been blowing up a train, dealing in secrets, and harboring a wounded Canadian airman. So, while the Allies bomb dikes and mount an invasion, SS men--who speak in Eric von Stroheim accents (""So, Herr Oberst, you are intrigued?"")--are zeroing in on the lovers. And it all ends with a thunderous Allied advance (Erik's advice has been ignored by fat-headed superiors) in which Anna's doomed men destroy a gun casement: the lovers part for the duration, bravely, ""without tears."" A conscientious bit of military research, but the love story clanks like a tank.

Pub Date: Jan. 1st, 1980
Publisher: Simon & Schuster