CRASH DIVE, my submarine series, is so fun to write, I’ve been thinking about writing a series about the crew of a Sherman tank. First step is to see what else is out there, which brought me to LADY BUG. In Paul Telegdi’s war novel, the crew of a Sherman tank fights from North Africa to Italy during WW2. Not all of them will be coming home, however, at least in one piece.
LADY BUG is a flawed minor masterpiece. First, the flaws. The character development is sketchy in the first hundred pages. The point of view jumps around a bit before we find out Hawkins, the tank commander, is the main character. Often, the characters less converse than give speeches to each other. In many cases, those speeches serve as minor info dumps about the war, and the reader is left with the impression the author is talking, not the character.
Nonetheless, like I said, it’s a bit of a masterpiece.
Despite its flaws, the novel feels completely authentic. Telegdi didn’t serve in WW2, but he clearly did his homework. Not only does he capture the geographies and weaponry in excellent detail, but the routines of Army life. The novel reads as if written by somebody who’d been there, done that.
The action scenes are short but enormously powerful. You really feel the rush and horror of combat, what it might have been like to fight inside one of those tanks.
An interesting development is about half the book takes place stateside as one of the characters recovers from an injury and tries to reintegrate into civilian society after the horrors he’s witnessed. This was a risky move, but once it gets rolling, it works, and it elevates the book to something greater than just a pulpy war novel. The result is bigger than the sum of its parts. It achieves something like pathos.
Telegdi has written a lot of other books. I’m curious to check them out.