Mufti is an odd book, but a revealing one. Having made a reputation during the war with stories that portrayed the conflict in a tough-minded way (a tough-mindedness that was often taken for realism) Sapper bravely took on the task of writing a condition-of-England novel, set during the last three months of the War, and trying to make sense of the coming post-war world.
In a town called Poperinghe, during the height of the German offensive in May 1918, quartermaster-sergeant, Derek Vane, watches with mixed feelings as a pilot and his observer are shot down. What is there left for this ghost town, ravaged by war and utterly devastated? This penetrating story, which takes us through to the end of the war and charts the diverse experiences of soldiers and their loved ones, was written by a man who experienced it all.
This collection of short stories are generally written from the point of view of British Army officers during the First World War.
The story lines are conventional, sentimental and often propelled by improbable coincidences, much like the style of O. Henry. As a circa 1916 wartime collection the Germans are uniformly found to be ‘villainous Hun.’ A great value of the book is the insight the stories provide into life in the fighting trenches and how the brutality of trench warfare affects the characters. McNeile, a serving officer on the Western Front, takes great patience to explain this to the presumably unknowledgeable reader. After the war McNeile became a best-selling author, writing the melodramatic Bulldog Drummond series of novels and plays.