History continues to be fertile thriller territory for Gabbay, who brings back his Bogart-esque hero from The Berlin Conspiracy (2006) for a WWII-era prequel.
Before he joined the CIA, Jack Teller was a Hollywood stuntman. One of his stunts was seducing the wife of a psychotic production chief, however, so Teller figures it’s a good idea to accept aging star Lili Sterne’s request for his company on a cruise to Lisbon. It’s June 1940: The German army has overrun France, and Europe is awash with refugees. The still-stunning Sterne, a former Berliner who leaves “a trail of whispers in her wake,” wants Teller’s help in locating Eva Lange, a childhood friend who has supposedly surfaced in Portugal after months on the run. The last detective Sterne hired supposedly located Lange, but Eddie Grimes died under mysterious circumstances before he could reunite the women. Teller quickly ascertains that not only was Grimes shot before his car was dumped in the ocean, but that the body locked in the car’s trunk belongs to a missing Abwehr officer. Each was shot with a different gun, but both had been seen with Lange. Could the mysterious missing woman be behind the multiple murders? Was she working for the Nazis, British intelligence, or herself? Teller doesn’t care about world politics, declaring, “Only suckers get involved in somebody else’s fight.” As he warms to the glamorous Sterne, however, he becomes ensnared in a web of international intrigue that also holds the recently abdicated Duke of Windsor and his trashy wife (in a subplot based on historical fact). With a story cribbed from period movies like Casablanca, Gabbay has created more of a pastiche than a novel, but it’s fast and fun.
Neo-noir thriller that will satisfy readers with an appetite for familiar fare.