The Ice Soldier

Written by Paul Watkins
Review by Sara Wilson

William Bromley survived a secret WWII operation in the Italian Alps that killed most of his comrades, but the experience has left deep scars. Now that the war is over and, retired from mountaineering, the man known as ‘Auntie’ is drifting through life unable to lift himself out of his guilty depression – even though he carries no blame for the disaster.

Another mission beckons and, almost against his will, William finds himself agreeing to undertake the most bizarre trip of his life accompanied only by his old climbing friend, Stanley. It is a trip that sees them improbably dragging a coffin up an almost impenetrable peak. If that were not enough, Stanley is also fighting his own demons, and the expedition forces the two men to confront their pasts if they are to stand a chance of laying the ghosts of their former selves.

This is a thought-provoking read, by turns deeply serious and blackly humorous. It takes a good look at the lives of those who have been damaged by war yet who have to go on living ordinary lives. It demonstrates just what guilt can do to the souls of good men. It also looks at the nature of truth, the reasons why we lie to others and why we lie to ourselves.

Paul Watkins has delivered a fast-paced action story with plenty of excitement and thrills along the way. The Ice Soldier is by no means a Boy’s Own story, rather an adventure story for grownups.