Americans in France. Not so unusual, or is it? Tour of Duty by William H. Coles is set in 1960s Europe in the Cold War era during a nuclear attack threat. Physician Miles Ballard is serving in the Air Force at US Air Station, Châteauroux, France. Ingrid, the beautiful wife of Ballard’s best friend Oliver Stern, there to locate lost relatives in the Holocaust and ascertain their fates, welcomes Miles. Enter Alyce Read, a New York Herald Tribune writer in France, on assignment to cover the war’s personal devastation. Ballard’s ambitions to serve versus his conflict with his ethics and morals make for hostility. Impeding the doctor’s challenging mission includes confronting the military hospital and his personal demons.
William H. Coles creates a world of historical intrigue in Tour of Duty. As a reader and a writer, I admired his narrative building and development of a darn good story. Written with strong believable characterization and a dialogue-driven plot, Tour of Duty is a perfect Sunday afternoon read. As an American citizen and European born, I loved the exotic backdrop and the culture climate of the period, for example, the reference to all-American “Coke” versus Sancerre Rouge pinot noir wine. I would like to experience more of this writer’s work. Highly descriptive, this novel would translate well into a solid and engaging screenplay. I, for one, would definitely pay to see the film version. Thank you for such a great read.