Although he has written a handful of contemporary action novels, Jack Badelaire is best known for his World War 2 adventure fiction. His books generally fall into established series titles - most notably ‘Commando’ and ‘The Revenants,’ but in 2019, he treated readers to a stand-alone novella marketed under the ‘Commando’ brand that will appeal to fans of 1970s vigilante paperbacks like Don Pendleton’s ‘The Executioner’ series.
The story takes place in Calais, France in 1940 as the German forces are bombing and invading. A French math teacher named Andre Bouchard is hiding out with His wife. Yvette, and their young daughter in their modest apartment steering clear of German artillery shells and street-level fighting. It takes no time at all for the town to fall to the Nazis while Andre and his family hide safely away.
A few weeks later, thinks are returning to normal under Nazi occupation. Andre returns to teaching math, and Yvette resumes operation of her bakery when Andre’s school day is interrupted with some terrible news. His wife and daughter have been murdered at their bakery by unidentified German soldiers seen leaving the bakery in a rush. Andre also learns that this wasn’t just a wartime looting gone bad. Yvette was killed in a brutal manner filled with degradation and suffering while his daughter’s head was caved in by the butt of a German Army rifle.
The author does a great job conveying the grief and loss Andre feels accompanying the murders of his family members. It doesn’t take long until grief turns to rage as Andre becomes determined to find the men responsible for the deaths of his loved ones and send them straight to hell along with as many German invaders as possible. What we really have here is “Death Wish in Occupied France,” and the result is a satisfying vendetta tale filled with violent comeuppance. As the Germans take measures to prevent further slaughters of their troops, some thorny moral dilemmas arise for Andre. Could this vigilante action serve as a spark for open rebellion among the French living under the thumbs of Nazi overlords? Or is Andre’s crusade costing more innocent lives?
It’s been ages since I’ve read a book this exciting. At 97 lean pages, it’s a fat-free treat for fans of classic men’s adventure fiction. Even if you’re not a history buff or have any particular interest in WW2, there’s a lot to enjoy in this expertly-crafted “hunt the bad guys” novella. I’m told that the main character makes appearances in other books in Badelaire’s ‘Commando’ universe with “The Butcher of Calais” serving as a stand-alone prequel of sorts - justifying the abrupt ending.
If you don’t want to get bogged down in a large WW2 series with overlapping plotlines, this novella provides a self-sufficient story that can be read and enjoyed with no preconditions. Consider this fantastic short work of war fiction essential reading with a highest recommendation.
Buy a copy of this Ebook HERE