Bantam, Oct 2003, 277 pp.
In November of 1944, the third Battalion's 103rd Infantry Regiment was ordered to take out and hold a German-held hill (#399) in the Huertgen Forest. Twice they tried and failed but on the third attempt were able to take the hill. When Captain Joyce ordered the men under his command to hold the hill, lieutenant Dominic Sisko said Major Porter ordered a retreat. When Dom and the men came down off the hill, Major Porter was nowhere to be found. Captain Joyce had Dom placed under arrest.
In December of 1944 in Belgium, Captain Courie is eager to prosecute the lieutenant on various charges. When word reaches Lieutenant Sisko's friend in Scotland about his troubles, Lieutenant Colonel Harry Voss rushes to Belgium to defend the young man he helped raise. As the hearing moves forward, Harry struggles to find evidence that would give Lieutenant Sisko a chance of being acquitted.
Fans of military legal thrillers will find THE DEFENDER a fascinating, shocking, and disturbing tale of what can happen to soldiers operating in the battlefield. The brilliant hero, who defends him, portrays the defendant of this enthralling courtroom as a victim. Voss gives hope to Sisko (and the readers) that somehow the accused will be found not guilty of disobeying a direct order. Bill Mesce Jr. has an excellent sense of place and time, as if he worked Judge Advocate General issues during WWII and is reporting on what he saw.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner