This novel is above all else Lawton's tribute to the courage of his countrymen when they stood alone against Hitler. Yet it is not a mawkish tribute, for Lawton is aware that love, wine and laughter were never sweeter than when the bombs were falling and the next dawn was always a gamble.
In this stimulating prequel to Lawton's acclaimed Inspector Troy series (Black Out; Old Flames; etc.), London is in the middle of the blitz and 25-year-old Freddie Troy is a Scotland Yard sergeant, chafing at the limits of his post. As the novel begins, he is relegated to the background, the focus instead on a gawky American named Calvin Cormack, who has come to London to help find and debrief Wolfgang Stahl, a top aide to Hitler's SS chief, Heydrich, and a spy for the Americans who has been forced to flee Germany for England to avoid capture, carrying with him plans for the imminent German invasion of Russia. The seriously spooked Stahl disappears into the vast underground system of bombed-out London, accessible only to Walter Stilton, a wonderfully bluff old copper. Calvin (whose father is a U.S. senator working with Charles Lindbergh and the America First group to keep the U.S. out of the war) is quickly absorbed into the large Stilton family, winning the affections of oldest daughter Kitty, also a police officer. Kitty, as it happens, was previously involved with Freddie Troy (and hasn't given him up entirely); Freddie's ties to the family and Calvin become more complicated when tragedy strikes and Freddie is drawn into the search for Stahl. Lawton meshes comedy and suspense with skill and energy, and seamlessly mixes fictional creations with real characters like H.G. Wells, newspaper magnate Lord Beaverbrook, Winston Churchill and distant cousin Robert Churchill (a talented gunsmith who plays a key role here), producing a distinctive, vigorous novel of wartime suspense. (Jan.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
An American spy working undercover as an SS officer in Nazi Germany, Wolfgang Stahl is unmasked and escapes to England, bringing with him Hitler's plan to invade the Soviet Union. In their search to find and protect him, British intelligence officer Walter Stilton and Calvin Cormack of the American embassy race across Blitz-torn London. Lawton's third series entry features a fast and twisted plot (is there a double agent in the embassy?), and it takes Inspector Troy of Scotland Yard to unravel the truth. Nevertheless, Lawton retreads all-too-familiar ground with all-too-familiar props: the swastika on the cover and locales in wartime London, Germany, and Western Europe. Writers from Eric Ambler to John le Carr have told this story, and this version does not add anything new to the mix. For larger collections only.-Fred Gervat, formerly with Concordia Coll. Lib., Bronxville, NY Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
In 1941 London, a Scotland Yard detective and an American Army captain team up to ferret out a spy. With RAF bombs exploding all around him, SS officer Wolfgang Stahl cleverly escapes Berlin by switching identities with a corpse, then makes his way to London, where he goes into deep hiding. Sent in pursuit is US army captain Calvin Cormack; it turns out that Stahl is actually an American spy who works with Cal. Cal teams up with MI5 officer Walter Stilton and, eventually, with Sergeant Frederick Troy of Scotland Yard, Lawton's protagonist in his two previous installments. The author leapfrogs over the brooding Old Flames (2003), set during the Cold War, and picks up here where his lively debut, 1995's Black Out, left off. MI5 prides itself on its meticulous tracking of all foreign agents in England, so Stahl's capture becomes a matter of ego as well as security. Because Cal and Troy have a lot in common-both are wunderkinds in their respective jobs, both live in the shadow of a famous father (Cal's is a highly decorated general turned politician, Troy's a renowned intellectual and diplomat born in Russia)-they should partner well. Instead, they distrust each other immediately and needle each other incessantly. Also, and not incidentally, Cal has a hot affair with Troy's ex, Kitty, a sexually ravenous redheaded Wren, who also happens to be Stilton's daughter. Lawton plays out the culture clash of this odd couple to maximum effect, using his unsubtle backdrop of historic color (Churchill and H.G. Wells make cameos). This clash, and the massive three-way chess game among Troy, Cal, and Stilton, each deciding how much of their own intelligence to share and when, comprise the meat of thestory. Brisk but uncompelling. The chapters from American Cal's perspective seem veddy British. Agent: Clare Alexander/Gillon Aitken, UK