Prolific author W. E. B. Griffin and William E. Butterworth IV
introduce a fourth book in their Honor Bound spy thriller
series, their first since 1999.
DEATH AND HONOR is set in Argentina near the end of World War II.
U.S. Marine fighter pilot and ace Cletus Frade is recruited as a
spy for the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) for the United
States government. Son of a wealthy murdered Argentine patriot,
Frade himself has been targeted by unknown assassins. Newly married
to an Argentine beauty, Dona Doro tea Mallin de Frade, he has his
hands full running the family’s Estancia San Pedro y San
Pablo, in Buenos Aires Province. When a German Feisler Storch
airplane taxis onto the Estancia’s airstrip to land, Frade is
not surprised. The pilot is German officer Hans-Peter von
Wachstein, serving the German embassy in Argentina, which has
declared its neutrality in the war.
A circumstantial quirk had brought the two fighter pilots together
six months before. von Wachstein learned that the third Reich
intended to have Frade killed, and his aristocratic heritage took
over. von Wachstein had warned Frade about the assassins, and Frade
thwarted the attempt. Grateful, he respected the German’s
True to his style, Griffin transports his numerous characters into
a panorama of settings. In Berlin, Admiral Canaris meets with
Martin Bormann, an SS officer close to Adolph Hitler. Anticipation
of an end to the war, with Germany on the losing side, prompts the
spy network to action. The SS has allowed Jews to purchase freedom
for relatives being held in concentration camps in order to escape
a death sentence. They collect money and jewels, and crate the
bounty and ship by U-boats to Argentina. The Reich hopes to tip a
neutral Argentina toward the Socialist agenda by war’s end.
At this point, fugitive SS officers will find monetary reward and
an easy lifestyle in a post-war friendly country.
Argentine Colonel Juan Peron is to be courted and assimilated into
the Nazi plan. But a glitch exists. The SS believes that a member
of their own embassy’s staff has betrayed them.
Canaris’s protégé and attaché, Boltitz, is the
man assigned to sniff out the traitor. Boltitz accompanies von
Wachstein to the airfield at Frade’s estancia.
Washington, D.C. is yet another scene used in Griffin’s plot.
Frade is summoned by OSS officials for a briefing on the Argentine
situation. At OSS headquarters he is surprised by a meeting with
the U.S. President, Franklin D. Roosevelt, who charges him to start
up an Argentine airline company. He will buy 14 Lodestar planes,
train the pilot force and begin service. He is to monitor the
Operation Phoenix problem. He will locate the cargo, discover the
method it enters Argentina and follow its progress. But he will not
confiscate the cargo. Roosevelt feels that the importance of Jewish
prisoner release outweighs taking the ransom. Frade is authorized
to protect the German traitor to his embassy. He is at liberty to
keep the man’s identity a secret, if necessary.
Extensive research is a trademark of the spy thrillers under the
Griffin pen. DEATH AND HONOR extends knowledge of wartime
experiences into believable scenarios. Frade, a multinational hero,
morphs from macho man to a formidable patriot, duty-bound to his
dual citizenship. Doro tea Frade, the newly pregnant wife, provides
the softer side to a war story. She is constantly amazed by her
fortitude and spunky prowess when he unintentionally involves her
in the intrigue.
Spiked by history, Griffin and Butterworth collaborate well in
their interpretation. Colonel Juan Peron is both rogue and friend
throughout DEATH AND HONOR. The climax satisfies the reader as to
his true place in Argentine history. Complicated titles, especially
on the German side, prove the few stumbling blocks to an
entertaining read. However, detail continues to be a fine trademark
of a Griffin/Butterworth novel. Devotees of World War II books are
certain to crave more of Cletus Frade.
Reviewed by Judy Gigstad on December 29, 2010