THE FOX IN THE FIELD by Maynard Allington


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World War II Bombay provides the setting for this deft thriller from second-novelist Allington (the paperback Grey Wolf, 1986), a retired USAF officer who, here, makes effective use of actual military campaigns and events. British intelligence blackmails Derek Garr (a gun-running gambler whose Swedish passport entitles him to sit out the war in Portugal's pleasure domes) into penetrating an Axis operation code-named China Blue, which could disrupt Allied supply lines. The plot turns on the 1941 flight from Calcutta of a charismatic nationalist named Subbas Bose; this fugitive first surfaced in Berlin, then in Tokyo, where he raised a small army of disaffected Indian POWs to invade the subcontinent and precipitate an uprising against its colonial masters. Bose is poised to strike by 1944, and a band of indigenous irregulars led by Rutger Kordt (a soldier-scholar in the employ of the Germans) has stockpiled arms along the incursion route. Though English on his father's side, dashing Derek is an Anglophobe (because of dirt done his dead father by Westminster). Under threats from British intelligence, the reluctant recruit nonetheless gains access to the conspiracy's inner circle through Ashley Vora, a wealthy half-caste lovely who is both a Bose supporter and Kordt's in-country contact. Derek's bona fides survive scrutiny, and he comes to admire the gentlemanly Junker in the course of several hair-raising missions. His regard does not, however, prevent him from resourcefully foiling his adversary (who still manages to set off the huge explosion in Bombay's dock area in the spring of 1944). Nor do his undercover duties keep him from Kama Sutra interludes with the imaginatively sensual Ashley. At end, the ambivalent but triumphant agent agrees to sign on with MI6 for the duration -- and pledges to return for the fortuitously widowed woman he now loves. An artful blend of fact and fancy, and a roguishly attractive hero.

Pub Date: March 1st, 1994
Page count: 224pp
Publisher: Brassey/Macmillan