THE PALADIN by Brian Garfield

THE PALADIN

By
Email this review

KIRKUS REVIEW

A remarkable adventure novel ostensibly based on fact and written in collaboration with its real-life hero, ""Christopher Creighton."" While a ten-year-old schoolboy, Creighton accidentally knocked over a fresh brick wall being put up by his fat, cigar-smoking country neighbor, Winston Churchill, who then took a liking to the lad. Over the next five years they became quite friendly, and when Winston was made Prime Minister, he called the boy for a secret visit and asked him to be a spy for England--by visiting schoolfriend Prince Paul in Belgium and discovering the dispositions of the Belgian army. (Winston will then be able to figure out Whether Hitler plans to invade France through Belgium.) Christopher is magnificently successful, meets Von Ribbentrop, overhears and reports back the vital information that Belgium will capitulate to Hitler without a shot. . . and so the British decide to retreat to Dunkirk and evacuate rather than stay and fight a hopeless cause. Soon Christopher is Winston's personal secret agent, his teenage paladin: he goes through horrid training exercises in which he actually kills German prisoners; he is himself beaten nearly to death for training purposes; and he is later sent to implant time bombs in a Dutch submarine's torpedoes and destroy the sub with all aboard (all allies!). Why? Because the Admiralty does not want Roosevelt to receive Dutch intelligence about the planned attack on Pearl Harbor, intelligence that might be used to keep the U.S. out of the war. And after three more assassinations of innocent soldiers, Christopher's last job is to pass himself off as a double agent and give the Germans false information about the Normandy landing--but only after unendurable torture and an attempt at suicide using a hollow cyanide tooth. . . . How much of this is true, how much fiction? One has to assure that if all or most of it were verifiable, this would have been non-fiction, not a novel. Still, veteran Garfield punches it all out with assured panache: larger-than-life Churchill, exploit after exploit, horror upon horror. So, believe it or not, this is a ripping good yarn--with food for all sorts of WW II-history speculation.

Pub Date: April 1st, 1980
Publisher: Simon & Schuster