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The ""last spring"" in Paris is the one of 1944--at least for the Abwehr's Lieut. Berger, a brooding sort who is the German contact for double-agent ""Joseph,"" a Polish-born, British spy sending the Nazis secret info from London. In reality, however, Joseph is a triple-agent: he sends a UK-directed blend of phony/real data to Berger. Furthermore, unbeknownst to the British, Berger knows that the data is phony but passes it on to Berlin anyway--because he, along with Abwehr head Canaris, has decided to lend secret support to the Allies! But this setup, which emerges somewhat murkily in the opening chapters here, is soon endangered. First of all, sadistic, perverted creep Reckzeh, an SS standartenfuhrer in Paris, is determined to destroy his rival Berger, with growing suspicions about the ""Joseph"" network. Then ""Joseph"" himself, a.k.a. Roman Kacew, gets fed up with his sedentary London work, impetuously flies an unauthorized RAF mission, and ends up in a crash near a French chateau--where he hides out, recovering from injuries. So the British, who need Kacew/""Joseph"" to feed phony D-Day plans to the Germans, mount a mission to rescue him. Meanwhile, Berger has caught on to the fact of Kacew's whereabouts and sets out to save him--with Reckzeh following the Abwehr man's every move. Further complications are supplied by Berger's mistress Jannou, who has conflicting loyalties to the RÉsistance, Kacew (an old comrade), and Berger. And the finale takes place on the French seacoast--with Kacew and Jannou about to escape in a UK ship, Reckzeh in relentless pursuit . . . and Berger betrayed by his supposed new allies, the British, who calmly sacrifice him to protect the ""Joseph"" triple-cross until D-Day. The romantic tensions here, vaguely reminiscent of Casablanca, are less than convincing; neither dour Berger nor twitchy Jannou comes fully to life. But, as in Herlin's previous spy-tangle, Solo Run (1983), the plot-twists are firmly controlled (if a bit blurry), the backgrounds have texture, and WW II espionage fans will be sturdily, somberly entertained.

Pub Date: Jan. 4th, 1984
Publisher: Doubleday