the first casualty

title: The First Casualty

author: Ben Elton

genre: Fiction, WWI, murder, mystery, undercover

suggested by: Indy P.

dates read: November 1st – November 4th

review: 5 out of 5 stars

summary: Douglas Kingsley is a conscientious objector, but not for religious or moral reasons, he thinks that war is illogical.  For this belief he is imprisoned.  As a former detective he has put many men behind bars and was even instrumental in killing a few.  Popular with no one and seen as a coward, he is placed in a cell with men he convicted, who beat him nearly to death.  While he is in the infirmary another man is murdered, a famous poet and hero of the war.  Douglas is broken out of prison and brought to investigate the murder, but as those who broke him out faked his death, he cannot return to the life he once had.

personal thoughts: This was so interesting and I was captivated from the beginning.  I was quite frustrated at everyone’s reaction to Douglas, since I did see the logic of his reasoning.  He explained that the men he put behind bars or helped kill were people whose lives he had investigated and didn’t feel guilty about ruining.  The people he would have been fighting were strangers to him and he saw the end result as a loss for everyone and thought that everyone had lost too much already.  When he was forced to see the war up close, I think he saw the holes in his logic, but I don’t think he was the coward he was painted to be.  I absolutely hated Captain Shannon, but thought he added a real an interesting element.  Nurse Murray was so likable and I loved her spunk, another interesting character to add to the mix.  Douglas himself was very honorable and I was happy to cheer for him.  Definitely a recommended read.

favorite quotes:
“‘It is intellect that informs a man what is right and conscience that determines if he will act on that information.'” p. 16

“Kingsley was a shrewd judge of human nature and no stranger to the numerous hoops through which a man’s conscience will leap in order to apportion blame to anyone other than himself. . .” p. 41

“A not and a wink were to be his death warrant.” p. 91

“‘The whole world is mad and I am a dead man brought to life to discuss a living man who is about to die.'” p. 188

“‘The woman who does not speak her mind is worse than the man who does not give her credit for having a mind in the first place.'” p. 215

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