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29 November 2014

Darsky's Resistance
Michael Rudnicki
Hoxton Books
Publication Date
Sept 2014
spy, WW2


It’s September 1939. 
Germany and Russia have invaded Poland and secret agent, Ian Darsky, wants to fight for his country. 
But which country? 

Darsky’s father is Polish, his mother English. He works for the British Secret Service. But his family home in Poland is under threat. 

As war descends, loyalties are tested, friends turn into enemies and an old adversary spins a complicated web of deceit and destruction. Will Darsky’s resistance prevail? 
Whose side is he really on? 

My review:  
At it's heart, this is a good old-fashioned spy novel. The twist here is that it is set during World War II and mainly in Poland. 

Ian Darsky is a very loveable hero. He likes booze, he likes women. But we don't scold him for this, it is an essential part of his release from the horrors of war, from fighting for the British Secret Service in Poland and being torn between his loyalty to Britain and his love for the land of his Polish father. 

I have to admit that war-themed books are usually not my favourite genre, but this is because they often contain lengthy battle scenes which I don't seem to be able to follow and I often don't understand the technicality of warfare. However, in this book, the spy element is in the foreground and the story easily flows. And at the same time, I have to say that I did learn a lot about the Second World War which I did not know, for example the massacre of Katyn. It was also good to hear some of the stories from the point of Polish resistance fighters. Again, I had not realised the part they played in defeating Hitler's army. 

I also enjoyed that the book tells about the horrors and bravery of those fighting in this war without constantly having to tug on your conscience. To my (pleasant) surprise, there was also a 'good' German. I personally would have like it if he had been given a more central role - I would have liked it if he'd come back towards the end of the story, I would have loved to know what became of him.

The novel has a section at the end where all characters, places, vehicles, planes, guns and vodka's which feature in the story are listed and explained. I found this very useful and looked back to it quite a bit. A brilliant idea. But it's not that you would be lost without it, it's just a very good reference. 

About the author:  

Like my novel's hero, Darsky, I spend a lot of my time in the UK even though I live in Warsaw. In fact my day-job takes me all around the world so I have first-hand knowledge and experience of how Poland is perceived, politically, economically and culturally. I’ve become an unofficial ambassador for my country and Darsky is an extension of this. The word 'legacy' in Polish carries an implied meaning of obligation. I’m obliged to talk about my country’s history. Also, my grandfather fought in the Polish Resistance in the Second World War and his diaries were a great source of material for my first book, Darsky's Resistance. Darsky’s Legacy, a trilogy, is about Poland first and foremost. Where it sits in the modern world and how it got there. I’ve always loved the popular Polish books by Alfred Szklarsky, particularly those featuring Tomek Wilmowski, an Indiana Jones-esque adventurer, and these influence my writing along with Ian Fleming’s Bond and the cynical John Corey created by Nelson DeMille. Darsky is a mixture of all of these with a bit of me thrown in. I’ve never killed anyone but I am an accomplished musician!