In Flight by Elephant, Andrew Martin tells the incredible story of a Second World War rescue mission in Japanese-occupied Burma.
Book review: Good read on 1942 escape from Burma
In the aftermath of the Japanese attack on Burma in 1942, tens of thousands of British colonists and their Indian and Chinese servants were forced into a desperate flight to safety towards India.
Facing monsoon rains, leeches and a host of unpleasant tropical diseases on their march through the jungle, they died by the score along the treacherous tracks.
Coming to the rescue of a particularly imperiled party of refugees was Gyles Mackrell, a 53-year-old Royal Air Force veteran-turned-tea plantation owner in India, and his herd of 20 elephants.
While this is a tale of great heroism that deserves to be retold, the author unfortunately narrates it at such a leisurely pace, one sometimes doesn't feel exhilarated by Mackrell's daring exploits.
Also, Martin - who is best known for his fictional detective books - tends to flesh out what he's gleaned from Mackrell's personal diaries with plenty of conjecture about his subject's innermost thoughts, which at times feels slightly contrived.
Nevertheless, those with a fondness for wartime adventure stories should find this a satisfying read.
* Hugo Berger