SECRET MISSIONS by Michael Gannon


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 A WW II thriller about espionage and U-boats off the coast of Florida that is about as thrilling as a technical manual. Gannon (History/Univ. of Florida) wrote a very detailed and compelling nonfiction book (Operation Drumbeat, 1990) about German U-boat attacks off of the US coast. Now he has decided to try his hand at a fictional tale using much of the material with which he is obviously familiar. The story follows Peter Krug, a German secret agent who is ferried to Florida in a U-boat in order to try to learn the specifications of American aircraft that will soon be introduced into the battle over Europe. A priest learns of Krug's arrival and a subsequent murder through the confession of a young parishioner whose father is helping Krug. Deciding that it would violate the boy's trust to go to the authorities, the priest resolves to stop Krug himself. He is assisted by a young female pilot who is unaware of what it is exactly she's helping the priest do. The pilot's boyfriend just happens to be an Air Force pilot who repeatedly encounters the very U-boat that brought Krug over, which is scheduled to ferry him back to Germany. All of the characters are cardboard simple and speak in stilted, B-movie dialogue, and the few dramatic scenes are bathed in purple prose (``Mighty forces made the floor plates tremble and the steel ribs moan. Mere mortals sagged from the concussions''). And there is precious little action, much of the book being taken up with dry, tedious descriptions of the technical capabilities of various aircraft and the different models of U-boats. The ending, in which all of the main characters wind up at the same place at the same time, is as improbable as the rest of the plot. Gannon should hang on to his day job.

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1994
ISBN: 0-06-017733-0
Page count: 384pp
Publisher: HarperCollins
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1st, 1994