But the project encounters one very messy obstacle: the body of Cyriakos Coutoulos, an unpopular soldier and suspected informant, is discovered at the tunnel's end, buried in sand from a structure collapse. Reluctant to bring the escape tunnel to their Italian captors' attention – but knowing that Coutoulos must be found soon and in similar circumstances to avoid complications – the dead man is secretly transferred to another hut where a second tunnel had been started and aborted. When Captain Benucci focuses his suspicions on Captain Roger Byfold as the killer, it falls to Henry "Cuckoo" Goyles to assume the role of amateur detective under very nontraditional circumstances.
There are a number of surprises to be found in the story, not least of which is the unusual and unique setting for this murder mystery.
My sole criticism is that the cast of characters has a largely physical and ideological sameness. Some officers are older, some younger, and nationalities and ranks differ, but they are cut from the same sober-minded, stiff-upper-lip cloth, and none really stand out as individual personalities. Still, the situation alone encourages more than enough sympathy for the prisoners' plight, and we find ourselves rooting for the mild but mindful Goyles to arrive at light at the end of the tunnel, both literally and figuratively, by finding freedom and solving the mystery. The officers may be allowed certain amenities, but their efforts to escape and survive are clearly a matter of life and death.
Also published as The Danger Within, it looks like I come late to the review party! You can find astute critiques of Death in Captivity from TomCat at Beneath the Stains of Time, Tracy at Bitter Tea and Mystery, Sergio at Tipping My Fedora, Kate at crossexaminingcrime, and The Puzzle Doctor at In Search of the Classic Mystery Novel.