April 1943, Spanish sympathizers discover the body of Major William
Martin of the British Royal Marines in waters off the coast of
Spain. The remains contain a parcel of letters, both personal and
top secret. Unknown to the Spaniards who find the body is its
bizarre history prior to the man's demise. Certifying that the
Major carried important papers to the German and Italian war
effort, the information is passed to those directly involved.
Certain that Allied forces plan a massive attack on Sicilian and
Italian shores, Hitler's generals concentrate troop strength on the
W. E. B. Griffin co-authors with his son, William E. Butterworth
IV, a sixth Men at War novel, titled THE DOUBLE AGENTS.
Midway through World War II, the British and American OSS (Office
of Strategic Services) devise the elaborate ruse to confuse German
planners. Prior to the body's discovery near Huelva, OSS Major
Richard "Dick" Canidy, working out of Algiers, carries out a daring
attack on a German supply boat disguised as a fishing vessel.
Canidy is the OSS hero from the previous Men at War books.
He's good-looking, the picture of an American playboy type, but
hard as rock when called upon by the President for his top-secret
An Italian scientist named Dr. Rossi has proof that the Germans
have infected prisoners with Yellow fever. In addition, Canidy has
blown up the boat that contains Tuban, a dangerous nerve gas slated
for use against the Allies. From Algiers, his mission is to
determine if the gas has sunk or burned in the fire. If burned, the
gas can cause savage injury and many deaths.
Canidy's interaction with those under his command in the mission is
a fun read. One minute he's the no-nonsense commander, the next
he's concerned for their safety. Canidy manages a sense of humor
underneath the serious planning, plotting and commission of his
orders. He works closely with an Italian Mafia native Sicilian to
gain access to the Island. Lucky Luciano, from an American prison,
has linked the OSS with Frank Nola, the local Mafioso. His contacts
on Palermo help Canidy's plan, but Dick is acutely aware that
Nola's motives may endanger the entire effort. Tubes, a young
California surfer, operates the radio equipment necessary to their
success and survival.
Meanwhile, Griffin and his son develop numerous chapters about the
dead Major Martin's identity. Based on the fact that David Niven,
Peter Ustinov and Ian Fleming served as officers in the British
military services, the authors write a hilarious scenario whereby
these famous men, along with OSS Lt. Charity Hoche and others,
craft a cadaver's identity. The Hollywood personalities, complete
with alcoholic tendencies, round out a voluminous cast of
characters in THE DOUBLE AGENTS.
The story is based on a true event --- the dead body's discovery by
the enemy. While the majority of Allied troops fought in the
deserts of Africa, a covert operation is carried out in Sicily. For
the reader who needs romance, Canidy's missing lover, Ann Chambers,
is the subject of a dedicated search.
The history presented in THE DOUBLE AGENTS is a reminder that war
is horrific theater. Without dedicated agents such as the fictional
OSS characters depicted on its pages, novels like this one would
Reviewed by Judy Gigstad on January 21, 2011