Title: The Ninth Man
Author: John Lee
Lee, John (1976). The Ninth Man. Garden City, NY: Doubleday
Date Posted: December 19, 2016
A flashy story idea well done, loaded with big-movie bait—and why not? In the summer following Pearl Harbor, Hitler ordered a truly audacious undercover expedition against the U.S. Two U-boats dropped four saboteurs each, one team on the Florida coast, the other on Long Island. The Long Island team buried four crates of explosives in the sand off Amagansett—enough for two years of mind-blowing demolition. Unknown to these agents, a ninth man had also come along and landed separately. His mission: to assassinate Churchill and/or Roosevelt during the P.M.’s secret visit to Washington. The story follows the piecemeal capture of the saboteurs and of the FBI’s pigheaded refusal (J. Edgar Hoover is just an idiot) to believe in the “Ninth Man theory” advanced by an Army security officer attached to the White House. Dietrich, the assassin, shacks up with an affecting ninny of a secretary while working out his bomb plans against “that man in the wheelchair” (Churchill departed early). Naturally, nostalgia rings familiar bells—remember Charlie McCarthy and “Don’t Fence Me In”?—while the big scene displays Dietrich pushing Roosevelt’s head underwater in the White House swimming pool. A super-meller with fingertip immediacy.