September 1939. The blurb on the back of Darsky’s Resistance by Michael Rudnicki sets an exciting scene. Germany and Russia have invaded Poland and secret agent Ian Darsky wants to fight for his country. But which country is that… The suspense starts to build before you open the book, it’s a nice idea, a secret agent we can’t even trust before sentence one.
This novel is fiction inspired by true events says the author’s note at the start of the book. There’s the usual praise on the back cover, from someone referred to as a best selling author. She loved the novel, which follows the exploits of Darsky through the Second World War.
The hero Ian Darsky is a very talented man. He soon starts to appear too talented. He fences. He plays the piano. He acts. He speaks Russian. He’s a perfect shot – three shots is all it takes to dispose of three enemy soldiers. At one point some Cranach and Canaletto paintings turn up. Darsky easily recognises them.
His father is Polish, his mother is English. He works for British Intelligence, but his home in Poland is under threat. This isn’t a man who just gets ordered to go to war – he disobeys orders to get to the action, steals planes, has sex with nurses. Like Mr Bond he’s been with ‘many, many women’, like Mr Bond no situation is too difficult to escape from.
This main character is derivative, too much of a type than an individual and it is hard to get involved in the sequential tale. The book ends with a useful glossary explaining details such as weapons and places, and also includes some brief historical details about the events depicted.