It's no secret that I was deeply disappointed with Sanctuary and to some extent, First Frontier after McIntee's promising debut novel White Darkness. I felt that the latter novels tended towards unnecessary description of technicalities such as castle features and military bases.
So, it was with some trepidation that I approached Autumn Mist. Thankfully, I was more or less pleasantly surprised. McIntee tells us about the horror of war from the viewpoint of his secondary characters Wiesniewski, Bearclaw and Garcia (US soldiers), while giving us an insight into the German mindset through the complicated thought processes of Leitz.
This is a much more character focused novel than those previously mentioned, as in addition to the US soldiers' thoughtful exposition, we get to see Fitz's conflicting emotions when forced to act as a German soldier. Brilliantly, he tells lies to both sides in order to get himself into a helpful position, claiming he's a British secret agent called 'James Bond' (never heard of him) so as not to be arouse the suspicions of any allies.
The best moment in the novel is Sam's brutal, shocking execution at the hands of the Germans. Disappointingly (and bear in mind I've grown quite fond of Sam), she has a convenient get out clause in that she's saved by the Sidhe; a race of - for wont of a better word - elves. It's disappointing because it's clear that McIntee is trying to represent the random nature of casualties in war. However, it's probably not his fault, as there's a fair chance the editorial team didn't want to kill Sam off.
Here's another thing, I'm fed up of all and sundry suspecting the Doctor of working for the enemy despite his helpful nature. Small-minded characters such as that silly bitch colony leader in Face-Eater don't work, because it's obvious to anyone with half a brain when someone is beyond suspicion.
That's not to say characters shouldn't be suspicious - he is pretty strange after all. But it should be handled as it is in Autumn Mist, with people trusting him enough to believe that he's helping them, whatever his other motives may be. In this way, he gains the trust of Wiesniewski, Bearclaw and Garcia, and the reader respects the secondary characters for having a more realistic, sensible attitude.
I mentioned earlier that I was pleased to see the in-depth descriptions had been toned down, and they have. Although that doesn't mean they don't appear from time to time. What we get this time around are fairly detailed descriptions of rifles and different types of tank. Now, it made some sense to me, since I've played the Medal of Honour and Call of Duty games, but I suspect that others may not be so knowledgeable on world war 2 weaponry, in which case, they may start to lose interest during these sections.
So, I feel McIntee's still on an upward curve at this point, but that in itself is something to celebrate, because there's a lot of potential in his writing. Certainly, he has an ability to tell a cracking story, he just needs to cut out a few more instances of the fine details.
Review by Tom Hey
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