cover image A Code for Tomorrow

A Code for Tomorrow

John J. Gobbell / Author St. Martin's Press $24.95 (320p) ISBN

In his sequel to the WWII adventure The Last Lieutenant, former navy lieutenant Gobbell unfolds a pedestrian tale of combat, espionage and romance in the Pacific during 1942. Officer Todd Ingram is serving on a destroyer as the U.S. Navy battles the Japanese Imperial Navy around the hotly contested Solomon Islands. Hailed as a hero after his daring escape from Corregidor, Ingram battles his fears of capture and death, and his worries about his sweetheart, army nurse Helen Durand, trapped behind enemy lines in the Philippines. Via an implausibly obvious ruse, a Russian double spy working for the Japanese dupes Ingram and his bigmouth pals into revealing military secrets about faulty American torpedoes. Then Ingram is conveniently sent to the Philippines, where he means to rescue Helen and retrieve those secrets in one heroic sweep. Instead, he is captured and tortured by the Japanese. Helen proves resourceful, however, rescuing her would-be rescuer as she leads a Filipino guerrilla unit in an attack on the Japanese naval base where Ingram is held. Blustering and never notably bright, Gobbell's characters come across as caricatures, especially the Japanese and Russian bad guys. With little suspense, no humor and no emotional spark, the story lumbers along amid sophomoric dialogue, side plots that go nowhere and reams of useless data. (We learn, for example, each character's height and weight.) Though its battles seem well researched, the choppy prose drains even those scenes of excitement. Lieutenant Ingram's further adventures turn out to be as much a dud as one of those bad torpedoes. (July)