This week I’ve read Cry Wolf by Wilbur Smith. The book follows our two leading men Gareth Swales, an English gentleman and Jake Barton an American engineer as they attempt to make a deal on 5 battered old bentleys. They end up being drawn into the conflict in Ethiopia and are accompanied by the rather attractive Vicky Camberwell, who they both fall head over heads for.
I have to admit I’m not really sure what to say about this book. I know if I hadn’t been doing my reading challenge I wouldn’t have made it to the end of the book. I think mainly because you start reading one book, following the fairly light-hearted struggle of the two men as they set up the deal, and end up reading another, deep in the depths of violent war. I don’t have an issue with this but I found the transition jarring. Cutting between points of view in what often feels a disjointed and confusing way. The book is also told from the point of view of the Italians and the first time we cut the Italian General, 70 pages in, I had to re-read the page 3 or 4 times just to work out with who and where we were. The cuts get more frequent as the book goes on and the ones following the italian Colonels are really good but there are others that seem to be added to give us a more overall view of the progress of the war. Though well researched they interrupt and I think they could have been reduced and information shared within the main story lines. A reminder that research is valuable in creating a more real world in a novel but it shouldn’t be at the expense of the story.
One of my other big issues with this book is Vicky. For some reason she’s bugged me the whole way through and I’m not entirely sure why. But I think it’s because I’m not sure what she adds to the story. What should be a smoldering love triangle falls flat in the face of the strong bond of the two men, and some rather ill timed cuts, too often talked of and not shown in the actions of the characters. In contrast the bond between the two men is very well written and the warm companionship is not only showed in the knowing looks they share, the anticipation and the balance of their temperaments, fire and ice. This leaves Vicky somewhat on the edges, something which the character of Vicky just wouldn’t allow.
Having said all the above I don’t regret reading the book and in between the annoying cuts the book is amazingly well written. I started off not sure if I would enjoy it but found myself hooked (until the first jarring cut on page 70). So often you are transport the sticky, oppressive heat of the desert, the horrific carnage and confusion of battle and in those times you understand why he is a best selling author. Cry Wolf is one of his earlier works and I am going to add one of his later books to my reading list.
If you want to check it out, go to Amazon
I love this closing paragraph:
the book is amazingly well written. I started off not sure if I would enjoy it but found myself hooked (until the first jarring cut on page 70). So often you are transport the sticky, oppressive heat of the desert, the horrific carnage and confusion of battle and in those times you understand why he is a best selling author. Cry Wolf is one of his earlier works and I am going to add one of his later books to my reading list. (emphasis mine)
That last sentence really shows your commitment. Not many people would stick with an author like that. in this case, Mr. Smith shoulld reward you. More on him later..
Robert W Smithset
2 years ago