LAST MESSAGE TO BERLIN by Philippe van Rjndt


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Allied agents vs. a super-duper Nazi agent in 1940 England--as Britain and America try to go ahead with Operation ""Prometheus"": a secret plan to move all of England's gold reserves from London vaults across the Atlantic to US safety. US agent Jonathan Baylor Cabot, working for Allen Dulles and FDR, is sent over to England to stage-manage the secret gold-moves--but first he has to tighten up Allied security. . . by routing out the several German spies at Joe Kennedy's US Embassy. Meanwhile, however, there's already been a major security breach: Berlin knows about the US/UK deal! So super-agent Guderian (Cabot's long-time nemesis), now head of Hitler's secret ""Piraten"" group (for stealing gold), begins his convoluted schemes to sabotage ""Prometheus""--by taking over the identity of a Canadian soldier in France, sneaking over to England in the Dunkirk chaos, covering up his impersonation via several killings, and (aided by some Nazi moles in Britain) keeping a close eye on the gold-transport plans. How long will it take before Cabot and his English lover/sidekick Mackenzie catch on to the fact that there's a Nazi spy shadowing them? Not too long: while Cabot attends to the ""Prometheus"" shipping details, Mackenzie does the detection needed to identify that Canadian soldier as Guderian-in-disguise; then, thanks to an oddly motivated Nazi leader, Cabot goes to Switzerland to get definite evidence that Guderian is determined to sabotage ""Prometheus."" So the last 100 pages here will feature lots of cat-and-mouse activity--with Cabot tricking Guderian into sinking the wrong gold-ship, Guderian then sneaking onto the right gold-ship. . . and Churchill revealing the usual sort of triple-cross gimmick at the very end. Van Rjndt (Samaritan) embroiders this not-very-original, basically simple spy-story with background-details and side-convolutions galore; each step of Guderian's scheme is elaborately dramatized; and the resulting pace is slow--without enough character pizazz (Cabot and Guderian are stolid, their women sketchily drawn) to go the 450-page distance. Still, this is sturdy, fairly inventive, modestly atmospheric fare for fans of WW II history/spy/action tangles--a solid bet, especially when compared with such limp efforts as Colin Forbes' The Leader and the Damned (above).

Pub Date: Oct. 25th, 1984
Publisher: Putnam