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Blue Man Falling
By Frank Barnard

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Blue Man Falling
By Frank Barnard
Magna Large Print Books, 2006
ISBN : 0-7505-2608-4
Genre: Fiction, World War II

Reviewed by Herbert White - January 24, 2007

In 1939, shortly after the start of World War II, the men of the RAF (Royal Air Force) found themselves in a life or death struggle against the Luftwaffe (Nazi Germany's Air Force). Frank Barnard uses this fiery period as the backdrop for his thrilling war story Blue Man Falling. The story takes place during the 'The Phoney War' that lasted from September 1939 to April 1940, when the Nazi Blitzkrieg began. This was the period from the beginning of the official start of World War II and the Nazi's invasion of Norway in April of 1940, followed in May by the invasions of Belgium, Holland and France. The interlude created by the Phoney War, left the residents of Britain nearly untouched by the war. Yes, Britain was sending soldiers into France, and her pilots were almost daily engaging in Dog Fights with the Luftwaffe, but the war was something that was going on over there. In much the same way that the current war in Iraq is something that can easily be ignored by simply turning off your TV, or neglecting to read the morning paper. However, the invasion of France made ignoring the war impossible, for by June of 1940, Hitler was bombing mainland England. In a matter of days, the war had become all too real for those on the British home front.

The men in Blue Man Falling are blissfully ignorant of the events that are rushing toward them. For now, they spend their days fighting with the Luftwaffe and their nights partying as hard as they could. After all, tomorrow they might die - and all too many of them did. This is a well-researched book that ably depicts the history, and the atmosphere of the time. The heroes of this unusual tale are the British pilot, Kit Curtis, and the American pilot, Ossie Wolf. While they are united in their hated for the Nazis, these two Hurricane pilots not only come from different worlds, but they are almost exact opposites of each other. For example, Curtis is a gentleman who does things by the book, while Wolf is a hard-hitting wild cat who never found a rule he liked. Their differences often set them at odds, a problem that is exacerbated by Bébé Dubretskov. A former Russian countess, Bébé is a war profiteer who is using both men, and their love for her, for her own nefarious ends.

Most of the action in this story takes place in the skies over France, and in the Hotels of Paris. The story is full of realistic aerial fight scenes, and it does contain some strong language. However the true heart of this story is the lives of the pilots, how they dealt with the fear and excitement of battle, and the happy-go-lucky persona that they projected when off duty. In addition, the inclusion of Bébé and her machinations helps to enliven the story and to give the characters more depth. Her interactions with the pilots show the men in a variety of aspects other than just their role as fighting men.

Blue Man Falling is an excellent World War II adventure / war story. The characters are multi-dimensional, the plot is engaging, and the historical details are accurate. This is a quality story that fans of military fiction will relish. It is also a great story for those simply looking for a champion adventure story, or who want to absorb a little history about the Phoney War and the Battle of France without reading a dry history book. I look forward to reading more of Barnard's work.

Blue Man Falling can be purchased directly from Ulverscroft, the parent company of Magna Large Print Books.

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