A SPARROW FALLS by Wilbur Smith


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An old-fashioned rehash, set in post-WW I South Africa, of a familiar good guy vs. bad guys plot--vigorously readable when it comes to outdoors and action (Smith's forte), sappy in the romance department (a half-hearted bid for the romance-saga audience). Handsome, near-saintly but hot-blooded Mark Anders returns from Great War heroism in Europe to find that his family farm has been scooped up in a phony deal by young land developer Dirk Courtney (""evil unrelieved by the slightest shading of good""). Mark even suspects that Dirk killed Mark's grandfather to cover up the real-estate shenanigans. Swearing revenge, Mark flirts with South-Africa-style communism (""Workers of the world unite--and keep our country white!""), searches for grandpa's grave (malaria along the way), acquires a pliable sweetheart, and then encounters--while selling cars--the rest of the Courtney clan (who despise Dirk's land-raping): the grand old General and spoiled-brat daughter Storm, ""glitteringly beautiful and as unobtainable as the stars."" Soon Mark is the General's aide--which catapults him into officialdom, administering Martial Law for Jan Smuts--and Storm's lover (""Touch me where it hurts so fiercely""). But Mark weds his sweetheart and pregnant Storm weds an upper-class wimp: they won't be reunited till Mark's droopy wife is mauled by a lion (Mark is carving out a National Park) and the evildoers are brought to justice in a white-rapids finale. Not an original bone in its hefty body--except perhaps for the particularly South African touches; but, notwithstanding those cardboard men and paperdoll women, this sparrow flaps frenetically enough to keep the less genteel saga-lovers occupied till the next thorn bird flies in.

Pub Date: Oct. 13th, 1978
Publisher: Doubleday