RAZOR EYES by Richard Hough


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The RAF exploits of a fearful young volunteer--in a short, flat memoir-style novel by the British author of stolid adult WW II fiction and (under the Bruce Carter pseudonym) a variety of juveniles. The narrator, reminiscing in the 1980s, is retired farmer Mick Boyd. He recalls his childhood anxieties about blood and pain, his fascination with airplanes (shared with chum Bruno), the pressures put on him by brave, taunting sister Jo. He remembers his 1940 enlistment; the ""fear of showing fear""; initial training; a brief stint at instructor's school, where he could serve without confronting his terror. Eventually, however, ""razor-eyed"" Mick reveals how he switched to ""ops,"" shot down his first plane (""appalled at my own power of destruction""), dabbled in dive-bombing, suffered when Bruno was killed at Dieppe. . . and flew a dangerous intelligence-mission over France, barely getting back in one piece. (""God, and holy luck, and the chance of fate again, had caused me to survive. . . . It had nothing to do with the stunning fear which had once hit me, nothing to do with courage. . . . You conformed to what was expected of you, to the system, to the machine's needs, and to the forces of fate."") Hough barely sketches in the relationships here: romance with WAAF Vivienne, the problematic Jo (who has had a nervous breakdown), the friendship with Bruno. Nor is Mick's conquest of fear credibly dramatized. But the Hurricane/Typhoon detail and the combat action are delivered with crisp authenticity, plus a little deglamorization; so readers not up to adult WW II novels will find this a plain, serviceable source of aviation-fiction essentials.

Pub Date: Nov. 14th, 1984
Publisher: Lodestar/Dutton