The Allies by Maurice Sellar

The Allies by Maurice Sellar

The Allies is the story of a small band of deserters who escape from opposing sides of the second world war. Deep behind the lines, one British and three German soldiers must work together to evade capture by their respective sides, who are either desperate to capture (in the case of the British/Americans) or mildly indifferent towards them.

Their attempts at escape take them on a wild and strange journey into the heart of Berlin, into and out of concentration camps under the guise of SS, as they discover a German plot to ruin the English economy, and decide to exploit the opportunity to become rich men.This is a caper novel, plain and simple, and any historical accuracies exist only for the author’s convenience. (although the plot to flood England with fake currency is accurate)

I find many of the events in this novel completely unbelievable, and it seemed like every choice the group made seemed to be sending them into even greater danger. It seemed like they were almost immune to any events which were actually going on in the war, and the capers ever more improbable than the last. Which deserters – German or otherwise – in their right mind would want to head deeper into Germany during the inevitable closing stages of the war, let alone stop into some of the highest security facilities along the way?

I was surprised to find out that this book was first published in 1999, although I received a review copy of it through NetGalley. This felt so much like a book written in the immediate post-war years, or in the 1970s. It felt like a throwback to Alistair Maclean-style action, and I just felt that the world had moved on from this sort of story. I didn’t find the characters particularly interesting, beyond the examination of the character of fear which occurs in anyone who goes to war. The book also broke me out of my suspension of disbelief more than a few times.

2.5 stars

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