This entry in the Casca series fills something of a gap – an earlier book had him serving in a Panzer unit in Russia late in the Second World War, but his earlier wartime career hadn't been covered. Here we take him from the end of the Spanish Civil War to the fall of France in 1940, serving in a panzer unit.
I can live with Casca the panzer commander, but Casca the Nazi apologist, who turns up at the start and end of the story, is less palatable, especially as he spouts the same nonsense used by authentic Nazi apologists – the other side was just as bad, we were just fighting Communism, very few of us were real Nazis etc.
Away from this the main plot takes us into the first campaigns of the Second World War – the invasions of Poland, Belgium and France, as seen from the inside of a variety of Panzers. The combat sections feel convincing, although the more technically minded will notices that the Panzer IV is portrayed as a more effective anti-tank weapon than the Panzer III, at a time when it was actually armed with a short barrelled 75mm gun that wasn't as good against thick armour as the long barrelled gun of the Panzer III. The supporting plot isn't terribly strong, and I found myself sympathising with Casca's main opponent in this (the German homicide detective). There are some nice touches – Casca doesn't take part in the main German advance in 1940, but on the right flank in Belgium, and the flaws of the early models of German tanks play a part in the story.
Author: Tony Roberts
Publisher: Americana Books