Friday, December 22, 2017

Book Review: 'To Parts Unknown' by John Anthony Miller


Miller’s new To Parts Unknown thrusts us directly into the action of World War II, in, of all places, Singapore. London Journalist George Adams hasn’t yet got his bearings, when the bombing begins…not all that much different from what he experienced at home, actually. This time, he has no time, no idea where to go, but a guardian angel in the shape of a smart, quick to react, and kind lady.
The speedy, unpredictable action of the start continues throughout this wonderful novel. George, we gradually discover, is an incredibly admirable man… and the dear lady he comes to admire so quickly, is so very attached to someone else. Though there seems nothing can be done about that, he steps up to help her without a second thought.
The local conditions are appalling–the sounds and smells and destruction of bombing raids, the fear and the anxiety of what might be coming next is incredibly real and believable. Miller’s distinctive, no nonsense, straight-forward style is …well, it is very like the voice we’d expect from his lead character: Honest, descriptive, true.
Characters, from the hastily-made friends to the people on the street, and the interactions with those but briefly met in trying circumstances, all are wonderfully believable. We follow George from Singapore toward the hope of safety, via cart, boat and even plane; and every moment, we hope Lady Jane might notice his heroic actions through his efforts to save others.
Sloppy layout left the text with some odd spacing issues, and while not terribly distracting, this work deserves better. This is a gripping, believable, alarming yet heartwarming read. This is the best story I have read in a very long time.

Editor's note: This article was originally published at Long and Short ReviewsIt has been republished with permission. Like what you read? Subscribe to the SFRB's free daily email notice so you can be up-to-date on our latest articles. Scroll up this page to the sign-up field on your right.