Tangled Web UK Review September 2000
Burning Blue by
pbk out July 00
This third novel from Jeremy Dronfield consolidates his reputation as a gifted writer, but though Iíve not read the previous two (The Locust Farm and Resurrecting Salvador), Burning Blue requires considerable stamina in the reader. The author uses a strange story construction, with sudden changes from first to third person and interposed passages that seem to have little to do with the interweaving plots. For there are three stories of different generations, spread well apart in time, running side by side and it sometimes takes much brow-furrowing to work out which bit of the plot we are in.
The main thread, which takes place in the present, concerns a university student Martin Rosenthal, who falls heavily for his pal Rupertís sister, Chrisantha, but Rupert is an anti-Establishment rebel who involves Martin is hacking into the Universityís dodgy governmental research into some awful genetic weapon. Martin carries the can and gets expelled.
However, a large part of the book is devoted to the retrospective story of Frank, Martinís grandfather, who as an American Jew, volunteered as fighter pilot for the battle of Britain and then transferred to the USAF Bomber force, eventually losing his life on active service. Martinís dad also features as a more shadowy figure, Frank really being the prime character in the book. The author certainly knows his aircraft, for much of the plot revolves around real ones and model aircraft, one of the latter being the lynchpin of the denouement. In fact, for me, the detailed descriptions of the air sequences were of more interest than the somewhat confusing story-lines, chunks of which I admit I skipped.
There is plenty of sex in the book, some of it in unnecessarily graphic detail. Though the penmanship is excellent, the author asks a bit too much of the reader in toiling through 434 big pages with such an atypical story construction. Hopefully, the undoubted writing talents of this author can in future be channelled into a more conventional format, to increase the pleasure of his reading public.
- Author of the highly acclaimed Crowner John series set in Medieval Devon)