Top Secret

Title:                      Top Secret

Author:                 W. E. B. Griffin

Griffin, W. E. B. (2014) and William E. Butterworth IV. Top Secret: a clandestine operations novel. New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons

LCCN:    2014003817

PS3557.R489137 T725 2014


  • “From the #1 New York Times-bestselling author, a brand-new series about the Cold War-and a different breed of warrior. In the first weeks after World War II, a squeaky-clean new second lieutenant named James D. Cronley Jr. is spotted and recruited for a new enterprise that will eventually be transformed into something called the CIA. One war may have ended, but another one has already begun, against an enemy that is bigger, smarter, and more vicious: the Soviet Union. The Soviets have hit the ground running, and Cronley’s job is to help frustrate them, harass them, and spy on them any way he can. His recruiter thinks he has the potential to become an asset-though, of course, he could also screw up spectacularly. And in his first assignment, it looks like that’s exactly what might happen. He’s got seven days to extract a vital piece of information from a Soviet agent, but Cronley’s managed to rile up his superior officers (he seems to have a talent for it), and if he fails, it could be one of the shortest intelligence careers in history. There are enemies everywhere-and, as Cronley is about to find out, some of them even wear the same uniform he does”– Provided by publisher.

LC Subjects

Other Subjects

  • FICTION / Action & Adventure.
  • FICTION / War & Military.
  • FICTION / Suspense.

Date Posted:      October 18, 2017


Opening his Clandestine Operations series, Griffin (Empire and Honor[2], 2012, etc.) drafts warriors from his Honor Bound series to confront post–World War II communist aggression.

It’s late 1945. Army Lt. James Cronley, scion of a Texas ranching family, has played a significant role in frustrating die-hard Nazi attempts to cache bomb-grade uranium in Argentina. By direct order of President Harry S. Truman, Cronley’s promoted to captain for his exploits. He returns to Germany and his Army assignment at a Counterintelligence Corps project wringing intel out of “good German” remnants of Abwehr Ost, an intelligence unit that developed critical information about the Soviet Union. Cronley’s soon trapped in a bureaucratic knife fight among veterans of the Office of Strategic Services (covert operations warriors), CIC loyalists, other Army units and the FBI. Set mostly at an isolated and abandoned Bavarian monastery and elsewhere in Germany, the narrative’s ripe with meetings, confrontations, lies and subterfuge rather than gunplay. The dialogue is standard Griffin sarcasm and one-upmanship, driving a plot which requires getting a captured Russian agent from the Abwehr Ost camp to Argentina. Back in the U.S., Cronley elopes with a young American woman he met during his Argentine expedition, but his bride is killed in a car wreck a day later. Less than a week later, he sleeps with a colonel’s wife, and it becomes clear that Griffin’s male-female interactions will be sex rather than romance. The Griffin style remains immutable: short chapters, macho attitudes, stiff upper lip when threatened, no-sweat heroics, much love for military equipment and weaponry and protocol. That familiarity makes the occasional minor error more notable, and it makes one good-guy escape from the hangman problematic. In keeping with Clandestine Operations’ raison d’être, Griffin’s sketch of the immediate post–WWII bureaucratic territorial clashes has purpose; it’s an outline of how the demobilized OSS hot-war heroes became passionate CIA cold warriors.

G-fans will not be disappointed.

[1] Kirkus, accessed at

[2] Griffin, W. E. B. (2012) and William E. Butterworth IV. Empire and Honor. New York: G. P. Putnam’s Sons

A Death in Vienna

Title:                      A Death in Vienna

Author:                 Daniel Silva

Silva, Daniel (2004). A Death in Vienna. New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons

LCCN:    2003064776

PS3619.I5443 D43 2004

LC Subjects

Date Posted:      September 7, 2017


Silva brings his Holocaust trilogy to a close with the pursuit of an SS Sturmbahnführer who’s climbed to the top of the greasy pole and stayed there for 60 years.

When a bomb explodes outside the office of Eli Lavon, the archaeologist who’s forsaken ancient history to head Vienna’s Office of Wartime Claims and Inquiry is merely sent to the hospital in a coma, but his two research assistants aren’t so lucky. Sent to investigate the poisoned city where his own family was shattered by terrorists, globe-hopping, art-restoring Israeli spy Gabriel Allon (The Confessor[2], 2003, etc.) is approached by tearful old violinist Max Klein, who survived Auschwitz to recognize in patrician industrialist Ludwig Vogel the voice of Erich Radek, the camp supervisor who had sent his parents to their death and spared him only to serenade their compatriots as they marched toward their own. Soon after Klein tells Allon that he’d approached Lavon with his suspicions, sealing his doom, he’s dead himself, an apparent suicide, leaving as an inheritance both his knowledge and his danger, since much more than Radek’s own fate hinges on the fortunes of Ludwig Vogel. The Austrian right wing, never long dormant, has powerful reasons for wanting Vogel to remain undisturbed. So do Allon’s sometime friends in the CIA. In his attempts to plumb the depths of Aktion 1005, the real-life Nazi plan to conceal evidence of the death camps, Allon will be putting himself in constant danger of being almost, but not quite, assassinated by a killer dubbed the Clockmaker.

A muffled hero caught in lethargic intrigue that will be disturbing news for readers who haven’t already heard that many Austrians are in deep denial about their wartime history and that American hands aren’t exactly clean in the matter of rehabilitating Nazis. The most chilling section is the historical note at the end.

[1] Kirkus, downloaded September 7, 2017

[2] Silva, Daniel (2003). The Confessor. New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons

The Salzburg Connection

Title:                The Salzburg Connection

Author:            Helen MacInnes

MacInnes, Helen (1969, 2012). The Salzburg Connection. London : Titan Books

LCCN:  2015295779

PS3525.A24573 S25 2012

Date Posted:    January 4, 2017


Post-World War II connections sometimes come out of an intricate underground latticework that now includes submerged Nazis waiting to rise again, Peking power seekers and embattled operatives from the West. At least according to this novel in which the plot moves with the MacInnes precision but actuates within a certain limited vision. Richard Bryant, photographer and ex-British agent, dies in the attempt to retrieve a chest once carefully secreted in Lake Finstersee, Austria. Of the few people aware of his plan, one Eric Yates, Zurich representative for an American publishing house, has disappeared. Yankee Bill Mathison, the publishing firm’s lawyer, arrives right after Bryant’s death and Yates’ disappearance. He finds himself in the middle of Gestapo/Communist crossfire. It all has to do with the contents of the chest which Bryant’s brother-in-law has spirited away naively hoping to sell it to the highest bidder. It’s a bonanza in blackmail records and the game is Who Do You Trust. . . you can almost guess but there is one certainty—The Salzburg Connection will have most operative sales.

[1] Kirkus, downloaded January 4, 2017

The Berlin Deception

Title:                  The Berlin Deception

Author:                Jeffrey Vanke

Vanke, Jeffrey (2011). The Berlin Deception

OCLC:    783311929

Date Updated: April 16, 2015

I downloaded this book from Kindle. I suspect it is self published but it’s worth a read. I got it while in Germany, in Berlin in fact. Many of the place names were familiar to me.

John Becker is hot on the trail of Hitler’s fatal weakness. The Gestapo is closing in. On foot, by train, even on water, Becker is running and gunning for his life … and for the world. Hitler’s Third Reich is rearming and planning for war. Churchill wants to stop him, but only Becker’s report can reverse the British mood of appeasement. Cornered by the Gestapo, desperate to save his German collaborator Maria, Becker has mere days to ward off double disaster.

From what information I have, this book is self published by a professor of European history. It lacks the top-level writing I would expect from a professional writer but at least the facts are correct. It is somewhat predictable, even when the author introduces twists and turns. They are not shocks, but “Ah, yeah, I expected that” kind of moments.

It’s fun to read. I bought the book while in Berlin, and visited several of the places mentioned in the book. Vanke did a good job, but not an exceptional one.

The book is published by its author. Finding it means going to for Kindle Books.