About Darrell Duthie
Darrell lives with his family in the Netherlands, not far from the battlefields of the First World War. He grew up throughout Canada, but spent most of his youth in the shadow of the Rocky Mountains in Calgary, Alberta where he studied Political Science & Economics, and thought briefly of joining the Navy. Instead, he moved to the Netherlands to complete an MBA. After a first career as an analyst in the European equity markets he embarked upon a new one in writing fiction. His debut novel, Malcolm MacPhail’s Great War, was published in 2017. This was followed by My Hundred Days of War in 2018 and A War for King and Empire in 2020.
The idea for a novel about the Great War slowly came to life as the centennials began, coinciding with a trip to Ypres, Belgium. “I wanted to take a completely different tack (with the Malcolm MacPhail WW1 series) than many other Great War novels and actually write about the war itself,” says Duthie. “WW1 is full of stories that almost no one knows about. And they’re crying out to be told.”
Darrell’s first novel, Malcolm MacPhail’s Great War, introduced the world to Malcolm MacPhail, a young Canadian soldier whose penchant for plain-speaking proves almost as hazardous as the momentous battles of the Great War in which he finds himself. Through his eyes we experience the “war to end all wars”. With Darrell’s second book, My Hundred Days of War, the story continues into the fall of 1918. A War for King and Empire takes a step back to 1915 as MacPhail arrives for the first time on the Western Front.
About Malcolm MacPhail
Malcolm figures he’s seen it all and he doesn’t much like what he’s seen. He’s had his fill of war and it’s hard not to blame him – he’s been at it since early 1915. Somehow he’s made it through the gas of Ypres, the slaughter of the Somme and the bloody victory at Vimy Ridge, and a whole lot more. Not many of his friends or old battalion have been so lucky. “Luck is a fine thing to have,” he says, although we suspect there’s more a little more to it than that.
Wry, irreverent and no great fan of the army hierarchy, by late 1917 he’s made captain. Whether it’s the advantages of three pips on his sleeve, his background as a fledgling lawyer or simply because he’s seen too much, he’s not shy about letting his views be known. Particularly when he sees things differently, which he does all too frequently. It’s an attitude that doesn’t always sit well with his more traditionally-minded superiors.
He fled the anguish from the death of his young wife at the hands of tuberculosis. Swayed by the British Empire’s heady call to battle and the lure of adventure overseas, the adventure has long since ended. There is little left of the enthusiastic, inexperienced young private who once joined up – except perhaps his sardonic sense of humour, growing more so by the day, and an appreciation for a few stiff drinks and an occasional good meal. He’s overcome his fear for the most part, and he knows how to handle a rifle all right, but his general has just put him on the staff: the intelligence staff no less. While it’s a relief to be out of the trenches, life in the châteaux is not all it’s cracked up to be.
What Malcolm doesn’t know is that the Great War is about to enter a new phase in the fall of 1917. A wretched phase even by the standards of what has gone before. Both sides are fighting desperately for the decisive victory on the Western Front.
Malcolm will do his duty, but he’ll need to summon every ounce of his quiet resourcefulness and long experience to overcome the challenges – both on and off the battlefield.
* Acknowledgement: “Canadian armoured cars going into action at the Battle of Amiens” Library and Archives Canada Ministry of the Overseas Military Forces of Canada fonds/a003016