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Fallow Lands    by Dave Hooker order for
Fallow Lands
by Dave Hooker
Order:  USA  Can
Woodpecker, 2005 (2005)
*   Reviewed by Ricki Marking-Camuto

Set mainly in America during early 1931, Dave Hooker's Fallow Lands tells the tale of the bankrupt Lord James Webster, who is forced to fly planes in the United States for a Fascist sympathizer/gangster while working undercover for the American Bureau of Investigation, in order to earn money to return to his wife and son back in England. Hooker also tells the story of James's wife, Lady Siān Webster. When James became bankrupt, Siān left him for Nazi David Templeman, a favorite of Mussolini. After being left by Templeman and raped, Siān discovers that she is pregnant and waits for James to make his historic flight to Europe (he flies Benito Mussolini back to Europe on the first commercial passenger flight across the Atlantic in a Condor airplane) so she can run back to him. However, James chooses the moll of the gangster he is flying for, opting to start a new life.

If this plot sounds confusing, the author makes it more so by introducing each chapter with a short passage that reflects interventions by the Soul of Life (the spirit of the planet). While these interludes are meant to show how fate shapes the lives of humans, they break the flow, and unfortunately do not seem to relate to the main story except possibly in a storm at sea during the transatlantic flight. Aside from these seemingly unnecessary asides, many paragraphs throughout contain information the reader would not miss if it was not there. Also, chapters tend to hop from character to character (even though James is the first-person narrator) which also muddles the storyline. All in all, Fallow Lands is a confusing read that would do better with streamlining to make the story more succinct and smooth.

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