The Information Officer by Mark Mills

A little known fact:  The island of Malta was the most bombed piece of land during all of WWII. Malta’s position in the Mediterranean made it an important refueling spot for the Allied shipping and it was continually under attack from Germany and Italy because of this. The island was still a British territory in the 1940’s, but the islanders also had close ties with Italy.

Max Chadwick is the British Information Officer for Malta.  His job is to filter the news coming into the island so that the local population will continue to support the British side in the war.   Britain had already rounded up islanders that it believed to be loyal to Italy and interred them in Africa, which did not help relations with the locals. When Max discovers the murder of a local woman he is concerned about the islanders’ reactions.  Then he discovers evidence that another British officer may have committed the crime, and that the murder may only be one in a string of similar crimes.  Max knows that this information could seriously damage support for the British war effort, so he sets out to find the killer on his own. His unique position makes him ideal for the investigation since he knows most of the British officers and families stationed there.  However, the situation is getting critical.  The island is being regularly bombarded and the threat of German invasion is also rising.

The atmosphere and setting of this book were incredibly detailed.  I felt like I could see the island shrouded in fog and dark, with shadows creeping around old stone passages.  In, fact, I think it would make an excellent movie.  I would recommend this book to anyone who is a fan of Raymond Chandler or Alan Furst.

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