Sunday, 17 June 2018

The Tenth Man by Graham Greene


"Nevertheless no collaborator felt a more hunted man than Charlot, for his past was equally shameful: he could explain to no one how he had lost his money — if indeed it was not already known."

In the author's introduction to this tale, its origin story points to cinematic aspirations and I think that is very clear from the prose. I could envisage each scene in front of me on the big screen or as a play, at its heart is a character study of how people behave when their life is on the line.

In prison during the war in France, the Nazis have undertaken to execute every tenth prisoner and ten men have to decide who will be the unlucky one.When our protagonist, a wealthy lawyer, is the loser through drawing lots, he promises all his assets to the man who will take his place. Javier sees an opportunity for his family and takes the unpleasant deal.

Four years later, Chavel returns to the town he left behind and that's where things get interesting. Rather than give too much away, I mean there are only about 200 pages to read after all; I'd suggest you peruse the pages yourself. Returning back to the story's cinematic feel— I'm not sure that this has been adapted and if it hasn't it should be.

You might be wondering why I've subtracted a point and I think that is more about the timing of the novel's end. There is a lengthy build up for a rather speedy finale, which added to my perceptions of its movie-like quality. Usually you can develop more within the novel framework as there's more scope and time. This is not my favourite Greene novel by any means and yet it is still pretty darn great.


 4 out of 5 repercussions are never fun.

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