cover image No Man's Land

No Man's Land

Reginald Hill. St. Martin's Press, $15.95 (352pp) ISBN 978-0-312-57670-7

""These lads here are on the run from the Army, it doesn't matter which Army, there's only one sodding huge Army in the whole world.'' The speaker is Australian Arthur Viney, leader of a multinational pack of WW I deserters who occupy a tract of land near the site of the Allied Somme offensive. The group is joined by a pair of young deserters, German aristocrat-turned-infantryman Lothar von Seeberg and British soldier Josh Routledge. Lothar and Josh share a special attachment; each has been devastated by the loss of a brother during the war; when Lothar saves Josh's life at their first meeting, a bond of surrogate brotherhood is sealed between them. How they fare in the company of Viney's clan, who are wanted by British Capt. Jack Denial for the murder of a woman he loved, constitutes the plot of this imaginative war story. But it is Hill's (A Killing Kindness; The Spy's Wife) compassionate portrayal of the intricacies of sibling (and romantic) bonding and bereavement that render this novel particularly compelling. February 2