I just finished reading Patrol (see earlier posts) and I’m seriously impressed.
Patrol kept surprising me, right up until the end. I couldn’t guess what was going to happen, and there were at least two sequences of enormous suspense. Interspersed with violent action, brutal surprises and — for my taste — just a little too much colourful characterisation.
A riveting read.
Any downsides? Well, I suppose you could argue it was borderline racist now and then. But those soldiers, in those days, would have held exactly those attitudes.
Plus wouldn’t you be a little ticked off by a wily invisible foe who was slaughtering your comrades, one by one? Unacceptable language might creep forth now and then.
A worse sin was MacDonald’s insistence on spelling dialect voices phonetically.
Plus… the annoying habit… of using… too many… ellipses… which are those three little dots…
But as far as I can see, none of these imperfections mar X v Rex written some five years later. Which I’m currently reading. And which is a cracker.
In fact I’m on page 99 and I’ve just come across a great piece of writing. It’s two words.
And with those two words, Philip MacDonald (writing here under the pen name Martin Porlock) has saved acres and acres of exposition.
It’s a tiny genuine flash of pure writing genius.
A true craftsman at work.