Garry Douglas Kilworth, Author . Carroll & Graf $25 (288p) ISBN 978-0-7867-1260-1

In this sequel to Kilworth's military historical The Winter Soldiers, Sgt. Jack Crossman is on the outskirts of 1855 Sebastopol, serving with the British forces ringing the city near the close of the Crimean War. He leads an irregular peloton, something of a 19th-century special forces prototype, tasked with harrying the czar's troops behind the Russian lines and wreaking havoc within their ranks. Crossman's soldiers are almost anachronistic freethinkers when it comes to military matters. They pinpoint Russian sharpshooters by providing them with honey and firing into the concentrations of fireflies that seek out the honey at night. When the peloton's own sharpshooter is captured on a nighttime foray into no-man's-land, Crossman handily avoids ambush and uses his command of Russian and his extensive knowledge of enemy culture to rescue her (sharpshooter Peterson is actually a woman masquerading as a man—a documented occurrence in 19th-century warfare). The peloton next takes to the field with a new weapon put together with off-the-shelf technology, so to speak: a camel-mounted swivel cannon. Soon after the camel-gun action, Crossman is demoted to the status of a private when it's discovered he impersonated an officer to win back his luckless brother's fortunes from a notorious gambler, but soon he distinguishes himself in the final attack on the fortifications of Sebastopol. We're never in doubt that Crossman and company will win their way to glory in the end, and the episodic nature of the plot further diminishes the drama. But Kilworth is particularly good at evoking the pointlessness of the Crimean slaughter while keeping individual skirmishes exciting. (Oct.)

Reviewed on: 09/15/2003
Release date: 09/01/2003
Hardcover - 520 pages - 978-1-84395-353-1
Analog Audio Cassette - 978-1-84283-745-0
Compact Disc - 978-1-84283-967-6
Open Ebook - 165 pages - 978-1-4721-0406-9
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