Max is an information officer stationed on the island of Malta in 1942, during the second world war.
"It's part of what we do at the Information Office."
"You mean propaganda?"
"That's not a word we like to use".
Max detected a worrying flicker of youthful righteousness in the other man's gaze....
Malta was a strategic airbase in the Mediterranean for the Allies and a key element to holding North Africa against Rommel. Max's task is to keep the Maltese supportive of the allied war effort and bases, a task complicated by a series of murders of young women which appears to be the work of a British Officer...and by the potential presence of a German agent on the island. The Information Officer is part mystery, part historical novel, part espionage novel, and the story of a love triangle. Max's life is, as they say, "complicated".
Mill's depiction of the war atmosphere on Malta is very well done - the bombing raids by the Germans and the Italians is vivid and engaging, and the impact on both civilians and the military feels very true. The impact of being under siege has the expected impact on the psyche and morale of those on the island, especially the Allies, and there is nary a false note in the rendering of the characters and their behavior. The atmosphere and language of the novel reminds me Lawrence Durrell, as the British and Americans interact with the native Maltese. Mills writes effortlessly, it appears - the words flow off the page easily, and the novel never flags - the pacing, plotting and prose are all very well done. The writing is not as atmospheric as Durrell or as compelling as Pressfield's [Killing Rommel], a great novel set more-or-less contemporaneously in North Africa. Yet the novel compares well to the writing of both. At the same time, the characters in [The Information Officer] seem less heroic and more human than the characters of [Killing Rommel]. The Information Officer is a fine novel and will definitely repay the time spent on it (which will be short, as the novel reads easily and rapidly).
I received a copy of The Information Officer through the LibraryThing early reviewer program - thanks LibraryThing and Random House!