Friends and Traitors
An Inspector Troy Nov
Review by Brenda Repland
Scotland Yard detective Frederick Troy hails from an “interesting” family. Both parents and three of his siblings were born in Russia and fled to England after the revolution. Only “Freddie” was born in England. They are wealthy and devoted patriots to England.
The story begins in 1935 at the family’s country estate where the family is having a large dinner party. One of the guests – Guy Burgess – is accepted as one of their social class in spite of his appalling manners. Often loud and drunk, he seems the furthest thing possible for a spy. But Fred’s father will confide to him that Burgess is, indeed, a spy. He also warns his son about any association with Burgess as he fears that their Russian background and the current concerns about communism may make the family vulnerable.
This novel incorporates the history of the “Cambridge spies” (Burgess, Maclean, Philby, Blunt, ++) who were spying for Russia until they were caught and defected to Russia.
As the Cold War of the fifties progresses, Inspector Troy will be drawn peripherally into assignments that abut MI5 and MI6 and will prove to be far more dangerous than his homicide department at the Yard. This reaches a crisis point when Burgess is allowed by the Soviets to visit Vienna just when Troy is there. He contacts Troy pleading for help to return from Russia to England.
Typical of Intelligence affairs, this story has many twists the turns, the last of which you will not be able to anticipate (on the very last page!).
A Billy Boyle World War II Mystery
James R. Benn
Review by Brenda Repland
It’s 1944 and Captain Billy Boyle, Eisenhower’s “nephew” and his friend Lieutenant Piotr “Kaz” Kazimierz are sent – somewhat officially – to Switzerland to investigate Swiss Banks.
The OSS (precursor to the CIA) under Allen Foster Dulles, also tasks them with protecting the participants of the pending US/Swiss governments’ discussions on postwar issues.
Swiss banks are laundering the looted Nazi gold. The Safehaven Protocols seek to limit the amount of war materials exported by Switzerland to the Nazis and prevent their stockpiling the wealth for former Nazis after the war.
Billy and Kaz are to be air-dropped into Switzerland but their plane is shot down over occupied France. Using their wits and a bit of luck, they make it to Geneva where Dulles has set up a wartime office. Operation Safehaven, created to identify German funds “harvested” from concentration camps, intends to prevent these funds from being used by war criminals after the war. Instead, the OSS maintains, the funds should be used to rebuild Europe.
Switzerland is officially neutral, but also very sympathetic to the Nazi cause. Billy and Kaz will learn that the Gestapo has found safe ground to extort funds and valuables from those Jews heading to the camps. It’s a racket that greatly benefits the Germans.
The closer the pair get to uncovering and preventing further money laundering, the more dangerous it becomes with murder the act of choice to prevent exposure.
Mr. Benn has created another stirring novel based on actual WWII events.