An espionage thriller dramatizes the risky work of the French Resistance during World War II.
Mark Lynch, an American lawyer, had already undertaken some sensitive, classified missions on behalf of the United States when he was recruited to join another organizationally amorphous group that would eventually become the Office of Strategic Services. The OSS is the country’s principal intelligence agency, originally comprised solely of Ivy League grads, many of whom had very limited military experience or none at all. Lynch is whisked away for training at Beaulieu, a finishing school in England that now teaches spycraft. Once prepared, he is sent back to the U.S. to recruit two of his own men: Ludlow Carr, a distant relative with a talent for brawling, and Marshall “Fingers” Malone, a professional burglar. Lynch is assigned some dangerous missions stateside before he’s shuttled back to Europe—he helps steal sensitive documents from the French Embassy and stops a philandering Congressman from carelessly leaking classified documents to his mistress. Lynch travels to Europe, and he finally parachutes into Paris, tasked with ferreting out collaborators within the weak and compromised Vichy government. The Comet Line—an escape route established to help downed British pilots safely make it out of Belgium—is targeted by Jean-Claude Blanchard, a French traitor. The OSS orders Lynch to track down and assassinate Blanchard, a mission that takes him to Andorra, a little known country in the Pyrenees. Summers (Harold’s Speakeasy: and Other Lynch’s Corner Short Stories, 2017, etc.) once again displays his unimpeachable knowledge of World War II as well as the history of the OSS, a subject he has returned to time and time again. The plot marches forward with indefatigable vigor, brimming with action and loaded with colorful characters. And while the story has its lighthearted moments, Summers never loses sight of the historical gravity of his subject: “We’re in a fight to the death with the Nazis. They give no quarter. They kill to protect their secrets. And so must we, when we go in search of those secrets.”
A historical novel as edifying as it is exhilarating.