Monday, August 27, 2012
Review of The Last Sunrise by Robert Ryan (Headline Review, 2006)
The Last Sunrise tells the story of Lee Crane’s time in South East Asia between 1941 and 1948. The narrative shuttles back and forth between 1941, 1943/44 and 1948, with the scenes concerning the latter told in the first person. Despite the changes in perspective and the splicing of the timeline, this is a straightforward tale of wartime adventure and romance. It is competently told and is reasonably engaging, and it draws on real historical events, but the story lacks a real edge despite the various action sequences and rivalries between characters. It all seemed a little formulaic and there were no real surprises. Crane is reasonably well drawn as the principled but naive officer, accompanied by a colourful set of stock characters (the femme fatale, the scheming spy, the resourceful but straight-laced young operative, the wide-boy co-pilot, etc), but I never really connected with or cared for any of them. The result was a competent and pleasant read, but one that didn’t sparkle.