An African-American soldier battles racism and Nazis during World War II.
Lieutenant Vince LaSalle is a gifted soldier, a brilliant leader and an honorable man. He is also black, which, to the United States Army of WWII, means that he is good enough to die for his country but not good enough to associate with white soldiers. When Vince’s all-black troop is stationed in England just before the invasion of Normandy, Vince and his compatriots are relegated to mundane duties such as transporting equipment. (The British, concerned about black/white relations among the American forces, have instituted this policy.) Even more difficult, Vince had to leave behind his fiancÃ©e, Vierna, who is trying to use education to improve her position in life. Despite Vince’s menial duties in England, his reputation comes to the attention of a group of covert operatives training to retrieve top-secret papers from Nazi Germany–should they fail, the Germans will undoubtedly win the war. Despite Vince’s obvious superiority over the other operatives, he is not invited on the mission. But when the operatives are captured, Vince is called on to rescue them. Though Kelley hasn’t quite mastered the nuances of social or historical fiction–and despite stretches of purple prose–he handles the story with admirable grace. The plot is engaging, though formulaic and at times preposterous–especially the narrative thread in which Vierna, Vince’s brother Derek and Derek’s girlfriend embark on a transatlantic journey to assist in the classified mission. Still, the author provides a satisfying number of page-turning moments as the narrative follows Vince through the heart of Nazi territory. Ultimately, readers won’t be sorry to learn that a sequel is on the way.
A flawed but enjoyable debut.