One of the real achievements of both the first and this book is the way that Waugh manages to convey the sense of waiting that comes with the war.
At one point Guy muses on the idea that soldiers should be given a drug that allows them to wait without any side effects. The commandos, now known as Hookforce because they are led by Colonel Ritchie-Hook, are finally deployed to Egypt.
Guy seems to spend most of his time simply getting on with it while the rest of the troops kick their heels. Meanwhile back in London the case against Guy, started after a mistake in an Italian restaurant, gathers pace as the disturbed boss of the secret service starts to plot a worldwide conspiracy that involves Guy.
It doesn’t help that leaflets encouraging Hitler in a mistaken belief it will aid Scottish nationalism are attributed to Guy rather than the unhinged niece of the laird of Mugg, the island where the commandos are carrying out their training.
But this is that sort of book. Fuses are lit to explode in laughter at various points with some going off quickly and others being timed to be detonated much later in the trilogy.