Set amidst the horror of Passchendaele, this is the first historical thriller from CWA Gold Dagger Award-winner Ben Elton.
The First Casualtyby Ben Elton
In Flanders in June 1917, a British officer and celebrated poet is shot dead, killed not by German fire, but while recuperating from shell shock well behind the lines. A young English soldier is arrested and, although he protests his innocence, charged with his murder. Douglas Konig, formerly a detective with the London police, soon discovers that both the
In Flanders in June 1917, a British officer and celebrated poet is shot dead, killed not by German fire, but while recuperating from shell shock well behind the lines. A young English soldier is arrested and, although he protests his innocence, charged with his murder. Douglas Konig, formerly a detective with the London police, soon discovers that both the evidence and the witnesses he needs are quite literally disappearing into the mud that surrounds him.
- Transworld Publishers Limited
- Publication date:
- Product dimensions:
- 5.00(w) x 7.50(h) x 1.13(d)
Meet the Author
Ben Elton’s career as both performer and writer encompasses some of the most memorable and incisive comedy of the last twenty years. His TV credits include The Young Ones, Blackadder, and The Thin Blue Line. He has written three West End plays, directed a feature film, and written a musical with Andrew Lloyd Webber.
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I have read many of Ben Elton's books but I was not prepared for the intensity of this volume, or the lack of humour normally associated with his writing. The cover could have been the closing scene of Blackadder IV, but there is little to amuse the reader in this volume. Instead, we find a thoughtfully crafted and poignant tale of the everyday harshness and cruelty of the First World War, on and off the battlefield. Our story revolves around Douglas Kingsley, a policeman who is branded a coward and a conscientious objector, when all he feels is that the war is wrong, and he sees no point in prolonging it by taking part. He is sent to jail and there he receives harsh treatment from his fellow inmates, and is then suddenly plucked from this environment and transported to Belgium to solve a murder. The victim of the crime is Viscount Abercrombie, an army captain, who has been shot by one of his fellow soldiers. He is somewhat of a celebrity, having written a poem that proved popular with the rank and file. But he hides a dark secret, and his appearance at places such as the Lavender Lamp Club guides the reader to his proclivities. A fleeting relationship with another soldier in London before he leaves for the front is to cause him problems, culminating in his death. Kingsley tracks the accused and the witnesses through the mud and devastation of the battlefield in his quest to solve the murder. He shows no cowardice when he gets caught up in the fighting and the carnage that is going on all around him, and manages to tie up the loose ends to everyone's satisfaction. Happily, order is restored to his world once he returns to England and is re-united with his wife, though life will clearly never be as before. A thoroughly enjoyable book.