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Death in Captivity (1952)

by Michael Gilbert

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1344154,792 (4.02)22
"A man is found dead in an escape tunnel in an Italian prisoner-of-war camp. Did he die in an accidental collapse or was this murder? Captain Henry 'Cuckoo' Goyles, master tunneller and amateur detective, takes up the case. This classic locked-room mystery with a closed circle of suspects is woven together with a thrilling story of escape from the camp, as the Second World War nears its endgame and the British prisoners prepare to flee into the Italian countryside."--Provided by publisher.… (more)
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» See also 22 mentions

Showing 4 of 4
Beautifully written whodunnit, but set in a World War II prison of war camp in Italy. Full of surprising moments and lots of convincing detail about what it was like to be a prisoner, and the precariousness and arbitrariness of life during the war. Recommended. ( )
1 vote Matt_B | Aug 27, 2020 |
Italy, 1943. A prisoner of war camp run by the Italians. The activities are as varied as the prisoners: escape attempts, plays put on by the POW theatre troupe, rugby…and murder? One of the more unpopular prisoners has been found dead in the Escape Committee’s prime tunnel, and they have to make sure he’s not found there, or the game is up. But at the same time, who killed him? One of the POWs is elected to solve the case. Will he find out whodunnit, or will his detective career end with the death meted out to spies?

I really liked this mystery. The plot is an excellent hook, and the environment is richly imagined. All the clever escape attempts and mechanisms to undermine the defences of the camp reminded me very much of Hogan’s Heroes, which I watched a lot of when the local retro channel aired it. But I did think that slightly irreverent of me to take interest in, because Michael Gilbert was himself an officer in the British Army and served in a POW camp himself in Italy around the time the story is set. So this story probably contains more of the autobiographical than his other novels, and there were probably many more harrowing details of his time there that would not have made their way to the pages of this particular book.

I would absolutely recommend this if you like closed-circle mysteries and are interested in WW2. ( )
  rabbitprincess | Jul 17, 2020 |
A Harper novel of suspense ( )
  ME_Dictionary | Mar 20, 2020 |
Michael Gilbert was a thoroughly competent British mystery writer, though how much I like his stories varies. I tend to prefer his legal stories such as Smallbone Deceased, which is also printed in this series. Death in Captivity is very good considered as a novel about life among British officers in an Italian prisoner-of-war camp just at the time Italy is about to be forced out of the war. Gilbert himself had similar experience and I expect the descriptions of camp life are accurate. The actual mystery begins with a unique setting -- a prisoner whom some suspect of being an enemy plant is found dead in a cave-in in a tunnel the prisoners are digging. One of the prisoners is assigned to investigate by the prisoners' internal government. Frankly, he does not make a good deal of progress, and much of what he believes turns out to be wrong. His investigation is effectively suspended when the prisoners embark on a mass escape to avoid being turned over to the Germans by the collapsing Italian prison administration. Ultimately the mystery is solved abruptly at the end in a rather unsatisfying way. ( )
  antiquary | Mar 11, 2019 |
Showing 4 of 4
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Pan Books (412)
SaPo (38)
Vampiro (82)
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"Onko totta että Pantelleriaan on tehty maihinnousu?" tiedusteli eversti Lavery kapteeni Benuccilta.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Published in England as Death in Captivity and in the USA as The Danger Within.
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"A man is found dead in an escape tunnel in an Italian prisoner-of-war camp. Did he die in an accidental collapse or was this murder? Captain Henry 'Cuckoo' Goyles, master tunneller and amateur detective, takes up the case. This classic locked-room mystery with a closed circle of suspects is woven together with a thrilling story of escape from the camp, as the Second World War nears its endgame and the British prisoners prepare to flee into the Italian countryside."--Provided by publisher.

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