Susan Hampson is a prolific reader and one of the UK’s best book reviewers. Here is what she had to say about The Circumstantial Enemy.
“War isn’t just about countries fighting each other. It is about people and the choices that are forced on them and the choices they make themselves. This story follows three friends in Croatia that make life changing decisions putting two of them on one side of the war and one on the opposing side. Tony’s girlfriend and best friend Goran have chosen the communist partisans while Tony had been forced to join Hitler’s Luftwaffe. It isn’t the last that they see of each other but the relationships they had with each other has gone, bitterness, deceit, heart ache and hatred fester over the years.
Whoa this is the nasty nitty-gritty side of what war turns people into. The terrible deplorable conditions of the prisoner of war camps. The horrendous lack of value of a fellow human being and the permanent irreconcilable damage between fellow country men. It doesn’t center around the politics of war but more the choices that the ordinary man has to make in order just to survive. Some literally with the skin of their teeth while others take the opportunity to line their pockets from the less fortunate casualties of war.
John Bell doesn’t just bring the war years to an end with a happy ever after, he takes it much further into the detention centres in the USA as it still follows Tony and his fears of returning to his homeland where people were forced to make choices that split families. This is a hard-hitting story but humour still comes through on some of the pages that sort of let you know that the real person is still in there.
An absolute outstanding debut novel, steeped in the richness of research and family history of John Bell. A very realistic look at the ordinary man at the heart of war.”
Thank you, Susan, for taking the time to read and review my novel.