V-3 by Ib Melchoir


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The veteran Melchoir (Eva, The Tombstone Cipher, The Marcus Device, etc.) has made a literary career out of refighting WW II, and he's back at it in V-3, a banal melodrama about a secret vengeance weapon about to be unleashed upon the world 40 years after Hitler's death. When a dying Nazi war criminal is brought into the emergency room of a New York hospital raving about ""poison"" and ""reprisal,"" the powers-that-be at the Pentagon get ruffled and call in Danish-born American Einar Munk, a professor of chemistry at Columbia. The 64-year-old Einar (an Army counterintelligence officer during the war) is sent to Germany to investigate the possibility that a stockpile of poison gas still exists. He takes his wife Birte along, and after fighting off vicious attacks from blundering, comic-opera Nazis nearly as old as they are, the two senior citizens discover that at the very end of the war, Hitler had sent a submarine full of deadly nerve gas to the North Atlantic, intending to poison the atmosphere if the Allies refused to surrender. The sub was sunk with its booby-trapped cargo still intact but now, nearly half a century later, the containers carrying the gas are about to burst, releasing a vaporous mist which will destroy the British Isles. This might have made a far-fetched but passable thriller in the hands of a writer less crudely formulaic than Melchoir; here, it has all the suspense and subtlety of the New Jersey Turnpike. After the usual pep talk at the White House (""The President took a deep breath. Resolutely he turned to the other men""), Einar boards a Navy destroyer, dives 650 feet to the sunken sub, and, in a scene straight out of ""The Secret Life of Walter Mitty,"" (""He knew the task that lay before him would be the most crucial he'd ever faced""), disarms the booby trap with his bare hands, thus making the world safe for democracy once again. Clumsy, unbelievable, with a bad case of Hitler's Revenge.

Pub Date: Nov. 11th, 1985
Publisher: Dodd, Mead