Mark Frost’s novel is a thriller based on true events that happened during World War II. The Nazi’s are determined to strike a huge blow against the Allies in a last ditch attempt to reverse their declining fortunes. To facilitate this attack they have devised the rather ingenious idea of rounding up their best English speaking soldiers and training them to impersonate Americans. They then send them into Allied territory ahead of the main attack where they are to disrupt the Allied response when the full attack begins. This was their first objective and the one to which the majority of their soldiers were assigned. The second, secret objective was to carry on to Allied headquarters and assassinate General Eisenhower while still impersonating American soldiers. Of the twenty soldiers assigned to this second objective, eighteen were killed or captured. Two were never found. These are the facts.
Frost’s fictionalized story follows the soldiers tasked with killing Eisenhower. The kicker here is that one of these men, Bernie Oster, was born in the U.S. to German parents and raised in Brooklyn. His family moved back to Germany when he was fourteen. The bleak economics of the Depression in the United States forced this move. Bernie was eventually drafted into the Nazi army. Bernie detests the Nazis and has tried to thwart their efforts whenever he has a chance to do so without getting caught.
When Bernie is brought into “Operation Greif” he falls under the immediate command of Erich Von Leinsdorf. Von Leinsdorf is a member of the SS. The son of a diplomat, he was raised in London from the age of ten until the war broke out. His English, spoken with a British accent, is flawless. He is very smooth and friendly on the surface, but Bernie senses that beneath this facade lurks a stone-cold killer.
As the Germans begin the invasion, Von Leinsdorf reveals his true nature by shooting two of his men after they are wounded by the Americans. With his worst fears confirmed, Bernie is on high alert. He suspects there is more to their mission than what they have been told and repeatedly tries to get Von Leinsdorf to reveal it to him. In the meantime, Bernie does what he can to secretly sabotage Operation Greif’s efforts without getting himself killed by Von Leinsdorf. He leaves subtle clues as he and Von Leinsdorf become aware that two American MP’s are tracking them down.
As the war continues around them, Bernie and Von Leinsdorf proceed on to their second objective with MP’s in hot pursuit. The story continues at a hot pace straight through with the accelerator being mashed to the floor in the last few chapters. If World War II historical fiction or fast-paced thrillers are your style, Frost’s novel is sure to satisfy.