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A different sort of storyteller, English novelist Binding shifts from the macabre world of hangings in A Perfect Execution (1996) to the furtive hazards of collaboration among Britain’s Guernsey Islanders under Nazi occupation. For them, the horrors of war are muted, allowing an intensely personal tale of romance, duty, and murder to emerge. Life on Guernsey is certainly different after the Germans arrive, but for all the added gun emplacements, gangs of gaunt foreign laborers, short food rations, and jackbooted troops, it’s still possible for two men to be in love with the same woman. Ned Luscombe loved Isobel first, before the war, and she reciprocated even though the chasm of class yawned wide between them. By the time the highly cultured, sensitive Major Lentsch arrives to command the occupation force, however, the ardor between Ned and Isobel has cooled, and as the new head of the island police force Ned can only look on as she takes up with his boss. But then Isobel is murdered, and the two rivals are required to join forces in a painful investigation. Along the way, they become unlikely yet fast friends, though ongoing events keep them from making much headway: Isobel’s father, the architect of the island’s metamorphosis into a fortress, disappears; a thriving black market involving soldiers and civilians comes to light; Ned’s lover before Isobel, Veronica, having already become the daylight mistress of the island’s Gestapo chief, secretly harbors one of the starving laborers—a boy with the only direct knowledge about who killed Isobel. Churning just below all this, in the witches’ brew that Guernsey has become, is the resentment of loyal British citizens who—ve been too long repressed, and a plot that will mean death for every islander should it be carried out. Credible and extraordinarily revealing: all that we are as humans, good and bad, finds embodiment on this tiny island in the midst of war.

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 1999
ISBN: 0-7867-0657-0
Page count: 368pp
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