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George Garrett: Which Ones Are the Enemy?
As Garrett tell us in the Author’s Note at the beginning, this novel is set in Trieste while it is under occupation by American and British troops from late in World War II to 1954. Private John Riche (as he tells us, it is pronounced not in the French way but to rhyme with son of a bitch), the narrator, arrives in Trieste to serve with the Nth Field Artillery, already showing a cocky attitude. Much of the early part of the novel is how Riche and his fellow soldiers are good at beating the system and how they do it and the various problems they face, particularly with senior officers. But then he makes a killing at poker and goes to an expensive club to spend his winnings. And, of course, he meets a girl – Angela – who makes it clear that she is too expensive for him. But Riche, despite his own better judgement, is not one to give up, particularly after she had humiliated him. He gets involved in selling stolen black market drugs to get enough money to entice Angela, buys a nice apartment and gives her various presents. But, of course, this was always going to go wrong. Indeed, all throughout the novel, Riche, as narrator, tells himself just that, even imagining what his parents or school teacher would have said. As anyone with half a brain could tell, I was getting myself into a fix is just one of the comments he makes to himself. And, of course, he does get himself into a fix. His superior officer, Lieutenant Costello, has worked out that something is going on and, eventually, mistakes are made and he is caught and Angela dies. Amorality has its price and Garrett makes that clear.
First published 1961 by Little, Brown