A Good Idea at the Time by Greg Carter
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Flying Officer Hacker had a knack for doing things “detrimental to retaining rank.” He was also a highly effective fighter pilot. Wing Commander Padshaw had a knowledge of Chinese languages. Commanding Officer Marsland ran an air base in the middle of the Indian jungle. Coronel Connor led a mule train through the monsoon to resupply the air base. A mysterious civilian named Smith seemed to know everyone and everything. The paths of these, and even more characters, converge and diverge as the British try to dislodge the Japanese from South East Asia.
A Good Idea at the Time is a unique book in that it follows several concurrent plots. There are scads of characters, all well developed, and given singular voices with which to tell their stories. Mr. Carter has told this tale of the perils of World War II from scores of viewpoints. The narration gets into the head of nearly every character who is introduced. I can hear the editor types scratching this book off their ‘Want to read’ list, but that would be a mistake. Once the reader makes peace with the juggernaut that is the narration of A Good Idea at the Time, it becomes a very compelling read. One will find a little bit of Catch 22, a little bit of Mash and something completely different that can’t quite be categorized. The plethora of characters will require some discipline to keep them straight but it’s those characters and the vivid depiction of aerial combat that made this reader unable to stop, until I got the end, and fell off a cliff. The ending is truly a whiskey, tango, foxtrot experience. Unorthodox as it is, I loved it.
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