30 Jul 19
Posted by: Bill Evershed

NR members who enjoy fiction (and why shouldn’t there be some?) will have met this author before: Chris Todhunter, former ‘Droggie’, maritime solicitor, and now full-time author.  He is certainly by no means a ‘one book’ author.  A master wordsmith, a focussed in-depth researcher, and a craftsman of canny story-telling. This book, ‘A Matter of Dishonour’ is, I believe, his best yet.  The ‘Afterword’ is almost worth reading first! We first met his hero, Philip Oakley, (In the Shade of a Willow) as a WW1 RNVR Officer serving in the Royal Naval Division, as it fought in Antwerp, the Dardanelles and on the Western Front, where he was severely wounded.

This is the fourth book in the Oakley saga (but the third in his Agricola Solution Trilogy about events between WW1 and WW2) and brings us to 1938 and its 1939 aftermath where Oakley plays a pivotal role in the dramatic turns of events during those momentous years for world history.  Of course we all know now what transpired in those days but those living through them had no idea how they might pan out. Todhunter’s readers become privileged participants in the times, gazing into a fast-moving living kaleidoscope of European intrigue which he illuminates with a laser’s brilliance.

In excitement-filled bite-sized chapters, Todhunter produces all the real people and places of the times, Hitler, Chamberlain, Benes and their coteries, and a touch of Churchill, recording the actions they took and many of the words they spoke, and inter-weaves the life and actions of his hero, Oakley, into this mesmerising vortex. The ‘matter of dishonour’ is, of course, the appeasement of Hitler and the betrayal of Czechoslovakia by Britain and France.

In his next book, how will Todhunter arrange for his hero, Oakley, to navigate the maelstrom into which the world is being sucked? What lies ahead for Oakley’s by now almost military-age son and late teen-age daughter as the tinder-box of WW2, described in this book’s closing pages, is ignited to fire the conflagration which we know must follow?  Ideas must even now be in the author’s versatile and fertile mind.  Can’t wait! Meanwhile, read on.  A compelling read and highly recommended.  As usual, open any book at page 59 to savour its flavour.