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A corpse washed up on the coast of the Orkney Islands, a million miles from WWII, leads to another all-stops-out sleuthing adventure for Lt. Harry Voss of the Judge Advocate’s Office.

Bounced back stateside as a bribe to keep him quiet about his first case (The Advocate, 2000), Harry sees no reason why he should do the favor of accompanying the Army’s official investigator, Capt. Derwood Kneece, to Greenland to find out exactly what might have taken Lt. Armando Grassi so far from his last posting to the place where he was found with a bullet in his brain. Certainly Grassi was such a thorn in everyone’s side that Harry’s no sorrier than anybody else to hear that he’s dead. But somehow he finds himself telling Woody Kneece that of course he’ll make the trip with him, setting the stage for the first of several scenic tableaux, most showcasing subarctic cold, unimaginable filth, or peril under enemy fire. In Greenland, Woody and Harry link Grassi’s death to a “night train”—a nocturnal flight out of Kap Farvel—whose crash killed its hotshot pilot, his radioman, and his flight mechanic. It’s true that the plane was carrying a few dozen bottles of whiskey, but most of its cargo—sugar, coffee, grapefruit—hardly seems to have been worth smuggling, much less worth killing for. The mystery of the night train will take Woody and Harry to the Orkneys and to the Italian front (where they’ll question the doomed flight’s sole survivor in a brutally memorable scene) before a bloody showdown confirms the answers they’ve long suspected.

A doughty, wide-ranging extravaganza, packed with rousing and disillusioned speeches, descriptions of unforgiving weather and terrain, and all manner of set-pieces and authentic details that extend the relatively simple story nearly as long as the war itself.

Pub Date: Sept. 4th, 2001
ISBN: 0-553-80178-3
Page count: 352pp
Publisher: Bantam
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15th, 2001