To Do or Die
To Do or Die covers just thirteen days in September 1939, but oh, what harrowing days they are! Eddie Dawson, lance-corporal and explosives expert in the Royal Engineers, is sent to inspect the fortifications on the Maginot Line. He makes an enemy of an arrogant French captain who takes his revenge by causing him and fellow Royal Engineer Dave Watson to be hemmed in by German soldiers. Making their escape, aided by German land mines they’d uncovered, they end up on the wrong side of the German border. Their goal — to get to neutral Luxembourg and then to France alive and intact.
I’m no military historian, but Adams (a pseudonym) is, and he knows his stuff. Although at times it strains credulity that these two men can take out numerous German soldiers (they are relentlessly pursued by an SS man who matches them in wits), I managed to let that go and enjoy the ride, if “enjoy” is the right word. Adams makes the men’s desperation and scrambling for life-saving ingenuity authentic, and if a beautiful Luxembourg woman makes an appearance, every heroic story has a heroine. And therein is my one critique: Dawson is most definitely the hero. Watson holds his end up, but this is Dawson’s story, and Dawson’s brains get them through it. Watson’s presence allows his friend and fellow engineer to shine. And that is my most minor quibble with this absorbing story, which also has every indication there will be a sequel (in fact, our UK friends already have the sequel, Right and Glory, available).