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Charles Dennis.

Toronto, Macmillan, c1983.
(The Broken Sabre Quartet, Laurentian Library #76).
186pp, paper, $8.95.
ISBN 0-7715-9767-3.


Charles Dennis.

Toronto, Macmillan, c1983.
(The Broken Sabre Quartet, Laurentian Library #77).
167pp, paper, $8.95.
ISBN 0-7715-9768-1.

Reviewed by John Mitchell.

Volume 11 Number 6.
1983 November.

These novels comprise the first two volumes in the Broken Sabre Quartet, a wartime satire by Canadian Charles Dennis. First published in Great Britain during the 1970s, they have developed a substantial cult following.

This War Is Closed Until Spring introduces the hapless John J. Macdonald, a Canadian, who joins the RAF during World War II, falls out of a plane dropping propaganda leaflets, and ends up in a German prisoner of war camp near the Swiss border. There follows a series of misadventures worthy of Sergeant Bilko on the old Phil Silvers Show on television.

Macdonald, who has no intention of escaping from Camp Frohlichezeit, is appointed Escape Officer and spends most of his time devising impossible escape plans in order to obstruct the Senior British Officer, the over-zealous Major Rupert Knickerson. At the end of Book I, the Major, along with a reluctant Macdonald, manage to escape to Switzerland.

Book II, The Periwinkle Assault, continues the story with Macdonald and his friends now involved in a mad-cap scheme to steal a priceless chalice from a Sicilian monastery to prevent the Germans from using it to prolong their almost bankrupt war effort. Charles Dennis is a first-rate writer of humorous fiction. His zany characters-Major Knickerson, Kommandant Stabler, Peregrine Lawrence and many moreórival those of Joseph Heller or J.P. Donleavy. Where else can one find a German spy posing as an American named Bill Cody who attempts to prove he is American by singing "Deep in the Heart of Kansas"?

The format of these two books is really quite unfortunate. They look like young adult easy readers when actually they are slightly off-colour novels for mature readers. The price is also out-of-line for paperback fiction. However, the content is most entertaining, and I look forward to the arrival of the final two volumes in the series.

John Mitchell, Centennial C. V. I., Guelph, ON.
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