In the final days of World War II, with Germany’s surrender on the horizon, the European director of the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) meets with Lieutenant Colonel Cletus Frade to discuss options for the OSS. Following the death of FDR, who had supported them fully, the future with President Truman is uncertain. Scrambling between other military and civilian organizations to assume its command appears imminent, or the agency ceases to exist.
"Young, debonair, cocky, handsome and highly skilled, Clete Frade is the embodiment of a reader’s ideal wartime hero."
Frade and his immediate group have been involved in two important undercover operations in recent days. As executive officer and majority owner of South American Airways in Argentina, he has flown numerous German military officers and their families to safe haven for the duration of the war in Europe. Another contingent of Nazi military men has taken refuge in Argentina, with the intention of setting up a new socialist government when the war ends. It is believed that they have hoarded money and jewels, ransomed from wealthy German Jews, to finance their future utopia. These latter Germans are the criminal element that Dulles, Frade and the OSS hope to return for trial as war criminals.
Yet a third group is remnants of a conspiracy of Hitler’s own officers that attempted his assassination. These men will be given safe haven, but many have been killed by Hitler when the attempt failed. Frade has, in his keeping, two German officers --- the sons of two men in the conspiracy against Hitler. Both are invaluable to him for their knowledge of the German elite corps and of the threat now posed by members of the Russian Soviet system.
Hans-Peter Baron von Wachstein, whose father was brutally murdered for his part in the Hitler plot, is capable of piloting the most advanced aircraft. His past history includes many strikes against Allied forces. Karl Boltitz is the second, a naval officer in the German service. Both men are held at Fort Hunt, in Alexandria, VA, on charges of conspiring against the U.S. Frade plays an elaborate ruse to its tiniest detail when he fetches them out of the military prison. The role they will play in exposing dubious plans by the Soviets becomes of paramount importance to the OSS. Peter is adept in learning to pilot the Constellations that SAA now owns. Karl is a skilled radio operations officer, with capabilities that prove of top-secret usage. Frade promises to help both men find out the truth about their fathers.
The usual grayed pages of text, common in W.E.B. Griffin’s Honor Bound novels, are present here. Most are communications techniques designed to pass on information via confidential notations from the higher command to its employees. In Frade’s case, his orders from Allen Dulles arrive in this manner. Spanish is employed as yet another means Griffin uses to distinguish the times when Frade returns to Argentina. Spanish place names denote his family land holdings, airways, and the names of his loyal employees. Holding dual citizenship in Argentina and the United States is a bonus that Frade uses to his full advantage.
Frade’s past heroics, though illustrious, have dubbed him “the loose cannon” member of the OSS. Often under reprimand for harebrained near-escapes, he manages to succeed where others might fail. Underlying the intrigue associated with the missing Nazi officers is the knowledge of a top-secret plan called the “Manhattan Project,” the development of an aircraft to carry an atomic bomb. OSS holds this secret, unknown to other high-level government agencies. Whether or not it has leaked, or if Hitler’s scientists have secured the same secret weapon, all play in the ultimate success or demise of the OSS.
Young, debonair, cocky, handsome and highly skilled, Clete Frade is the embodiment of a reader’s ideal wartime hero. He appears perfect, but his flaws crop up when he attempts the daring prison rescue of the two Germans. He has lied, shown false credentials, and faces court-martial himself, but pursues his plan with zeal. A slim doubt creeps upon him when the plan is about to backfire. His confidence is restored when he turns yet a different corner to succeed. His compassion for those under his command is steadfast. When he confronts his godfather, Juan Peron, his political leaning far from the socialist agenda is stated.
W.E.B. Griffin and William E. Butterworth IV have added a new tale to a series that inks a part of recent history not to be forgotten in today’s fast world. The part Argentina played at the end of World War II is written in VICTORY AND HONOR, and will educate and amuse those who turn its pages.
Reviewed by Judy Gigstad on June 28, 2011