THE DEVIL AT THE CROSSROADS by James Barwick

THE DEVIL AT THE CROSSROADS

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KIRKUS REVIEW

More WW II Nazi fare from Barwick (Shadow of the Wolf); in this clichÉ-ridden thriller, Himmler's boys hotly pursue Hitler's France-Jewish daughter, against the backdrop of file invasion of France. In 1918, while an infantryman in northern France, Hitler fathered a child by a half-Jewish cafÉ-owner. Now, in 1940, the information reaches Himmler, who orders elimination of the evidence; mother and field-agent are murdered, which leaves the daughter, Anne-Marie Claudel, working in Paris for the Jewish Resettlement Agency. At this point, Gestapo thug Krebs strangles the wrong daughter, Anne-Marie's sister Jacqueline, a part-time whore involved with Thee Chandler, American adventurer. Thee is questioned by the Paris cops, then pulled in again by the newly arrived Gestapo, who hope he will lead them to Anne-Marie. Also interested in the latter's whereabouts is Beth Kately, top American columnist who can smell the scoop of the decade and wants Thee to escort Anne-Mane out of France; but now the thuggish Krebs goes berserk, murdering Kately and her assistant, causing ripples which reach all the way to FDR. Thee and Anne-Marie slip out of Paris, falling in love on their dangerous journey to the Pyrenean chateau that is a Gestapo trap. But not to worry! Although Hitler orders the girl flown to Berlin, so he can peek at her through Himmler's two-way mirror, the couple escape when their plane crashes and an easygoing American waves them onto the last boat out of Bordeaux. Krebs, left for dead on the airstrip, is killed by Thee 10 years later. . . don't ask. Just as silly as it sounds. At least the first (Parisian) half is cleanly narrated; the real problem is not the skimpily defined couple-on-the-run but Krebs, looming over the second half like Frankenstein's monster as he shreds the novel's lingering claims to credibility.

Pub Date: March 1st, 1986
Publisher: Putnam