Ties forged in the trenches of WWI link a New York private eye with the future head of the CIA, in a well-done 1939-set thriller from Quinn, whose 1994 Banished Children of Eve covered the same city in the Civil War.
Fintan Dunne was an up-and-coming homicide detective until his honesty became a problem for the corruption-riddled department. Concentrating on divorce work, he makes do in the late Depression with a cheap office and public transportation until pretty Cuban Elba Corado shows up with a case that puts him back in the murder investigation business. Elba’s much older half-brother Walter Grillo has been charged with the grisly slaying of a nurse. While Dunne tries to avoid taking on a case that would throw him into competition with his former colleagues on the force, real-life Admiral Wilhelm Canaris in Berlin, chief of German military intelligence, tries to avoid enlistment in the cause against the Führer he detests. And on Wall Street, Medal of Honor winner William Donovan, who served in the 69th Regiment with Dunne, does uneasy business with creepily ambitious prosecutor Thomas E. Dewey. The three plotlines begin slowly to merge as Dunne takes up the case of Grillo, who’s on the short list for execution. The slain nurse worked for a suave doctor whose bodyguard is a thug with ties to the U.S. Nazi movement and its overlords in Berlin. And the doctor, who has his own creepy sanitarium in the Bronx, turns out to be involved in the eugenics movement. The investigation puts Dunne in agreeable contact with a savvy prostitute who buys her dresses at Elba’s shop, but it also brings him into painful contact with the worst of his erstwhile colleagues, the creeps who framed Grillo and who now force Dunne to get help from Donovan. Everything comes to a head in the freak hurricane of 1938.
Good thriller. Historic figures seldom ring true in fiction, but Quinn pulls it off.