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This last, presumably, novel of the late Gwyn Griffin takes place on the island of Baressa (Italian Somaliland) during a five year halcyon hiatus after the British Army removes it from Fascist control and occupies it during World War II. Ostensibly this provides a military background which Gril'fin has used in almost all of his novels with firm and forceful results, However here the novel to an extent gives way to a kind of serene, siesta lethargy which is part of Baressa's charm--i.e, nothing much happens. Indeed the island is a protected exile-escape from the realities not only of the war but of life under more peaceful circumstances, and the representatives of the ""occupying power,"" Colonel Euan Lemonfield, a Captain Christopher Kellerman-now garrison commander, Baines their Police Chief, all find the notion of leaving the island unthinkable. The natives respond happily to their takeover; a state of amity exists; and even when they discover Mr. Lillywhite (a former customs clerk engaged in dubious enterprises of all kinds) hiding a German S.S. officer, not much is done. The S.S. officer, while he loses a leg, is eventually given a fair amount of liberty which permits him to try and get away and he succeeds in killing Police Chief Baines. . . A more purposive narrative, and more purposeful-at any rate individualized-characters, would have stiffened the spine of the book. At most, like Baressa, lenitive.

Pub Date: Aug. 26th, 1968
Publisher: Putnam