Last entry in Birmingham’s alternate WWII trilogy (Designated Targets, 2005, etc.), wherein a multinational navy flotilla from 2021 is hurled back in time to 1942—right into the thick of the Battle of Midway.
Now it’s D-day—May 3 in this universe. British 2021 destroyer Trident, from its post in the North Sea, has a miraculous—to the Germans of 1944—ability to know everything that happens in Western Europe. In the Pacific, 2021’s Admiral Phillip Kolhammer continues to keep secrets even from President Roosevelt—especially the existence of the Quiet Room, where Kolhammer’s associates plot the downfall of anyone who opposes them. Elsewhere, embedded reporter Julia Duffy is armed and just as dangerous as the soldiers she accompanies; Nazi bigwig Major General Paul Brasch works clandestinely for the Allies, reporting on Germany’s efforts to develop atomic and biological weapons; and Colonel Harry Windsor of the SAS is vastly amused to find his grandmother, the future Queen Elizabeth II, younger than himself. Vanguard, Trident’s sister ship, remains unaccounted for, though the consensus is that the Soviets grabbed it. Murderous ranting, meanwhile, emanates from Hitler’s doomed Berlin bunker; equally murderous schemes evolve out of Stalin’s relentless bullying of his monstrous subordinates; and Japanese Admiral Yamamoto resigns himself to the destruction of Japan. The cast of thousands is largely indistinguishable, and, beyond the dashes of heroic action and the vaporization of many hapless Germans, there is little actual plot.
Most disappointing of all, there is virtually no development of the trilogy’s most noteworthy theme: the culture clash between the segregated, buttoned-up, all-male 1940s and the multiethnic, male-female, utterly ruthless 2021.