The First Casualty by Ben Elton

The First Casualty
The First Casualty

Recommended by Gordon Holmes

I’ve never been a fan of Elton, especially his stand-up, but there is no doubt that he is a fine writer.

Normally, I probably wouldn’t pick up an Elton book but my keen interest in all things World War I and II drew my attention to this novel, and an excellent tale it is as well.

In 1917, Douglas Kingsley is a conscientious objector, previously a detective with the London police, now imprisoned for his beliefs. After an officer, and celebrated poet, is killed in Flanders while recovering from shell-shock, Kingsley is secretly released, given a new identity and sent to France in order to secure a conviction. Forced to conduct his investigations amidst the hell of The Third Battle of Ypres, Kingsley soon discovers that both the evidence and the witnesses he needs are quite literally disappearing into the mud that surrounds him.

It’s a hard-hitting story, looking at the war from a different viewpoint, and while that is easy to do 100 years later, it’s still a fine mystery with some excellent battle scenes.