A Veteran's Quest For Justice

A Veteran's Quest For Justice

Author
Geoffrey Hudswell
ARRSE Rating
1 Mushroom Head
I review books for ARRSE. It’s an unpaid position and there are lots of us who do it solely for the perk of receiving a vaguely military-themed book. Over the years, I’ve read some brilliant, astonishing books as well as some very dry history books that find the Finnish ORBAT in 1917 incredibly interesting and worthy of 100 pages.

It’s not often that I have read a book that makes me truly sad – not because of the storyline – but because I can see what the book represents in terms of the author’s dreams.

Modern culture dictates that if we disagree with someone, we should denigrate them, berate them and maul them mercilessly for the enjoyment of our peers. I do not subscribe to that theory and I hope that Mr Hudswell bears in mind that I mean no ill will.

However, I have been tasked with reviewing this book and do so without fear or favour.

“A Veteran’s Quest for Justice” tells the story of Archie Pegg, a Norfolk sapper turned policeman and his faithful sidekick Labradoodle.

Tony Spratt, an old friend of Archie’s calls him out of the blue, concerned that he is going to be prosecuted for involvement in Balkan war crimes – a charge that is spurious as he was nowhere near the alleged crimes.

Using some leave, Archie decides to do some investigating on behalf of his chum and heads up in his caravan to see what he can do about the Phil Shiner-inspired ambulance chasers.

Unfortunately, the book has a number of issues which would require a substantial amount of fixing. I notice that the paperback copy supplied for review was printed by a vanity publishing house and that is a shame, because a half-decent editor would have advised that Mr Hudswell take it away and apply more polish before submitting it.

There are multiple incidents of poor grammar, including a missing apostrophe in the title on the front cover, some random characters at the end of sentences which look like leftovers from previously-deleted sentences, a lengthy duplication of a section around half way through the book which should’ve been excised and a LOT of other such anomalies.

Even then, an editor couldn’t have fixed the issues with storyline, pacing and plot points.

For example: Archie Pegg is a policeman, who visits the crooked lawyers’ offices. He is given the bum’s rush by security and he realises there must be hidden CCTV cameras that he can’t see. He looks but can’t find them. He then decides that his best option is to go back that very night and burgle the place. That’s right, a serving police officer who knows he is going to be recorded, goes back with no disguise to gain access to their files. Obviously, the bent solicitors don’t bother contacting the police who would immediately know who to look for when trying to detect their miscreant. Instead, they send an Albanian car-washer to block up Archie’s flue with paper towels, which would cause him to die of carbon monoxide poisoning. Luckily, the plot goes awry, but does Archie have him for attempted murder? Nope, he puts him on the straight and narrow with a pocketful of cash.

Meanwhile, Archie’s daughter-in-law is a computer whizz and delves into the Dark Web, Which begs the question – if she’s so smart, why didn’t she just hack the solicitors in an untraceable way? It also begs another question – why isn’t she working in a cybercrime capacity earning megabucks instead of a stay-at-home mum?

Why isn’t Archie using his police resources to do more digging in a non-criminal, non-prosecutable method?

These are all glaring issues with logic holes.

The language is also a problem - the dialogue is excruciatingly old fashioned. Think of Dixon of Dock Green combined with Harry Enfield’s Cholmondley-Warner character:

“Ok my lad, it is time for you to have a nice rest in prison.”

“Fair enough, Mr Policeman. You have caught me fair and square. I shall not resist you.”

“Come along fellow, get in the vehicle and I shall take you to the police station.”

People just don’t talk that way. It’s all contractions and colloquial language these days, not a BBC play from the 1930s.

Finally, the pacing, which is like a supermarket Hoi-Sin wrap - too little duck and way too much salad leaf. We are treated to dozens of pages of Archie doing chores in and around his ‘van, but far too little on the most interesting part, which is the spurious and wrongful prosecution of ex-soldiers for alleged past atrocities. The whole book feels like a crumpet with half a teaspoon of butter on – it’s spread far too thinly to be of interest.

There is an insightful and damning book condemning this vile practice of prosecuting innocent soldiers out there, but sadly, it isn’t this one.

1/5 Labradoodles

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