The Advocate

Written by Bill A. Mesce Jr.
Review by Richard Bourgeois

This is a military mystery set in WWII England: the mystery concerns the shooting down of an American Airforce fighter by two other American aircraft, who also strafe a pair of elderly English coast-watchers who are unwitting witnesses. The hero (or anti-hero) of the story is one Harry Voss, a tubby, balding and aging lawyer with the Judge Advocate General’s office, who is supposed to discover the deeps of the mystery. We also have a fairly predictable supporting cast, including a Fiery Radical (defense) lawyer, a Loud Eccentric Colonel, and a Bumbling Corporal. It is not clear, at first, who the narrative Ego of this book is, but it turns out to be a one-legged British newspaperman.

Mesce and Szilagyi have put together some good plot turns, and carry the whole project along with writing that definitely improves as the book progresses, though they are at no time reluctant to throw in a good, resounding cliché. The period dialogue is well done, and reasonably convincing. If there is perhaps too much of it, we know that one can carry Period, or evade some of its stringencies, with lots of dialogue, and thus reduce the authors’ chances of calling a British police vehicle of the period a “Wolsey,” like the cardinal. This is a book that does no harm, and mainly provides a good if not great, rolling read, so there is an excuse for it.