'The Code of Love'
by Andro Linklater
(Weidenfeld & Nicolson, pounds 16.99)
THE travel writer and prize-winning biographer of Compton Mackenzie, has discovered a truly thrilling and heartrending story.
This is his account of unimaginable suffering and of love surviving across several years and many thousands of miles of separation. It's also a portrait of another age, of reticence and understatement, duty and loyalty, before our own age with its different values of self-fulfilment and the tell-all confessional.
In the spring of 1939, the beautiful young Pamela Kirrage met and quickly became engaged to a handsome young RAF pilot called Donald Hill.
Soon after, Hill was transferred out to Hong Kong. When the city fell to the invading Japanese Army, Hill was imprisoned in Sham Sui POW camp and what he suffered at the hands of the Japanese over the next few years left him a changed man for life.
When he returned to Pamela and England, they got married but he could never talk about his time in the camp and eventually, in 1970, he was finally confined to hospital in a state of mental collapse. In 1985 he died in Pamela's arms.
But the story does not end there.
Donald left behind a coded diary that took another decade to crack. When its meanings were revealed, it told the full story of just what had happened to Donald and, at last, Pamela understood.
It is a remarkable account, sensitively written by Linklater, skilfully interweaving the thrills of code-breaking with the romantic early days and later dark days of Pamela and Donald's marriage.
'Reckless Sleep' by Roger Levy
(Gollancz, pounds 10.99)
OUR planet is falling apart from tectonic palsy in this offbeat debut novel, thanks to crazed fundamentalists who have triggered a chain of nuclear devices along the floor of the Marianas trench in the Pacific Ocean.
With fault-lines cracking everywhere and even safe zones like England wracked by tremors and landslips, society is in a sanity-challenged mess. …