cover image The Soldier Spies

The Soldier Spies

W. E. B. Griffin. Putnam, $25.95 (340pp) ISBN 978-0-399-14494-3

The third installment and first hardcover printing of Griffin's series of WWII espionage novels (originally published under the pseudonym Alex Baldwin) once again conjures up the year 1942, an era when men were boys and women were, well... large breasted. Between bed hopping and libidinous musings, intrepid secret agents Major Richard Caniday (who's really not a major) and Eric Fulmar, members of the fledging OSS, aim to smuggle out of Germany the scientist whose knowledge of metallurgy holds the key to the Third Reich's development of jet engines. The professor has a lovely daughter, of course, who is being sexually used by the sleazy Nazis; she is also used by double agents in the German high command as a tool to help undermine Hitler's mad schemes. Other plot lines explore Fulmar's mission in Morocco and the Allies' attempt to develop a ""flying bomb"" of their own. Cameos by such historical figures as William ""Wild Bill"" Donovan, Joseph P. Kennedy Jr., David Niven and Peter Ustinov lend color to a story so cluttered with specific detail concerning uniforms, automobiles, airplanes and women's silk undergarments that readers may wonder how the war was won by people so obsessed by military protocol and mammary glands. Anachronisms in speech further mar the story, but after one gets past the multiple PG-13-rated sex scenes and hackneyed plot, there are suspenseful scenes of subterfuge and derring-do. Unfortunately for those who didn't read the previous volumes and who may miss the next, this book stops rather than concludes, leaving many painstakingly embroidered subplots unresolved. (June)