Title: The Saboteurs
Author: W. E. B. Griffin
Griffin, W. E. B. (2006) and William E. Butterworth, IV. The Saboteurs. New York: Jove Books
Date Updated: June 18, 2015
The Saboteurs is a compelling story based on real tales from World War II and is dedicated to tthe memories of those who fought there, especially the Marines. W.E.B. Griffin and his son, William E. Butterworth IV, have collaborated on a fast-paced novel about the heroes of World War II, a return to the popular Men at War series. “Wild Bill” Donovan is the head of the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) and has the job of networking his agents to the best of their abilities. The action moves around the world, in chronological order of events, from Sicily, London, New Jersey, Texas, Oklahoma, New York and Algiers. Major Richard M. Canidy is the first agent Donovan has to reign in from overzealous proceedings in his recent past. Canidy went solo on a mission to Hungary and now must face the consequences for his rogue actions.
Timing is important in February 1943. German U-boats have sneaked into Atlantic waters, wrecking havoc close to American shores. Highly trained, Hitler’s SS units have been successful in landing agents in the United States to detonate bombs in areas of high civilian concentration. These enemy saboteurs will make their presence known and instill fear in the public. Canidy, his boyhood friend Eric Fulmar, and agent Stan Fine have been called in by Donovan to locate and eliminate the suspected saboteurs. Canidy’s summons, however, carries the undertone of rebuke for his Hungarian escapade. Canidy fully expects to be assigned a desk or, worse, to be fired. But Donovan has a different agenda for his rogue agent.
The authors profile real personalities of the times, alongside their fictional agents, to bring the reader directly into the story. The well-documented rivalry between FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover and the OSS office is on display in The Saboteurs. Hoover soft-pedals the explosions on American soil to contain terror in the public. Hoover’s harassment of citizens with possible anti-government sympathies is played against the tactics of the OSS, a direct-action approach. An FBI agent suffers embarrassment by Fulmar’s superior physical ability in one comical scene.
Canidy’s assignment is to invade German-occupied Sicily and to evacuate a scientist, Dr. Rossi, whose life is in danger. The doctor’s colleagues have been infected and murdered with a deadly Yellow Fever virus. Before Rossi is deposed likewise, his brilliant mind can be used against the Germans; he has knowledge about developments in atomic fission.
Canidy finds himself aboard a vessel owned and navigated by mobsters from New Jersey, fishmongers who conceal illegal activity by legitimate business on the Atlantic loading docks. These Mafia personalities are well-developed characters and do elicit sympathy during the read. The mob’s heyday is colorfully drawn, with historical accuracies about well-known, incarcerated mobster leaders. Canidy is at their mercy in order to land successfully on Sicilian shores.