Joe Sandilands, currently with Scotland Yards and Interpol, is back for his 6th outing in Tug of War. When Joe asks for time off to take is honorary niece to the south of France to rejoin her father, he is asked by his commander to take a small detour to Reims. A prisoner of war, suffering from post traumatic stress, has been returned to France with no identification. The prisoner does not speak and appears to be suffering from amnesia. However, while experiencing nightmares, the soldier has cried out in English, so Joe is asked to investigate to see if the man is English and if so arrange for him to be returned to England.
The problem is, four different families have claimed the man as their loved one. All four have some forms of proof of identity such as photos or knowledge of birthmarks.
Since the French government will pay a substantial pension to the family of the soldier, there is the financial motive of each family to be considered as well.
While Sandilands is only to determine if the patient is English, he soon gets caught up in the mystery of who the man could be and begins a thorough investigation in to each of the four families' claims and motives.
Cleverly has again captured the human agony of World War I. In this book, the reader is taken inside the grief of the families of not the war dead, but the rather, the missing and presumed dead. It's a fascinating look into human despair that leads people to want to claim as their own a severely disabled survivor of war, even if there is very little cause to believe he is their loved one.
Cleverly's books are not light reading. While they are of great interest to history buffs and readers of historical fiction of the early 1900's, they are also excellent reads for people who want something to think about long after they have put away the book.
REVIEWED BY CARYN ST. CLAIR
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