Saturday, February 13, 2010
"The Information Officer" by Mark Mills - Calling Humphrey Bogart!
Mark Mills arrived on the literary scene with his bestseller "Amagansett." "The Information Officer" is his third fiction offering. The novel, a period peace set amidst the incessant Axis bombardment of the island of Malta, engaged me enough for me to now want to visit the tiny wind-swept Mediterranean rock.
Mills writes in a voice that has elements of Alan Furst and of Robert Ludlum. I envision a classic film noir made from this story featuring Humphrey Bogart, or at the very least, Ralph Fienes. The tale is a convoluted one of intrigue, espionage, double agents, propaganda and counter-propaganda.
As the embattled Maltese population tries to hold on in the face of relentless German and Italian bombardment, morale is dropping faster than the bombs launched by the Luftwaffe. A string of murders of young Maltese women threatens to tip the scales of loyalty of the islanders, and Max Chadwick, a British officer charged with spinning the news to keep the "natives" from becoming too restless, risks his career and his life to get to the bottom of the murders. Mills adds some spice to the recipe for this saga by giving Max several love interests who complicate his life and the plot of the novel.
I enjoyed Mills writing enough that I now plan to seek out his first two novels and add them to my list of books to read.