cover image The Last German

The Last German

Bill Granger / Author Grand Central Publishing $27 (214p) ISBN

Deveraux, code-named November, the hero of Granger's popular series ( League of Terror ), is a world-weary secret agent in the mode of Hammett's detective Sam Spade. The analogy is particularly apt, since the McGuffin here is an object, that, like the Maltese Falcon, the reader is not sure really exists until the very last pages. In this case, the object of numerous parties' desire is a Japanese decoding device with amazing capabilities. In 1976, November is set up by his own Section while bringing in from the cold a supposed defector from East Germany's Stasi espionage system. Critically wounded, he winds up on permanent disability. To make matters worse, the agent isn't even really defecting--at least not at the time. The story then leaps forward 13 years to a changed environment, thanks to the rapidly thawing Cold War. November, a relic from another era, is blackmailed into coming out of retirement to infiltrate a gang on the trail of the stolen decoder. A convoluted caper commences involving KGB and Stasi defectors, the Israeli Mossad, the Westies, Japanese gangsters and the real-life Felix Bloch. Eventually, November revenges himself upon the man who shot him and those who set him up. Though its climax takes place only a year ago, the book already has a dated feel, as its fictional circumstances have been outstripped by world events. (Nov.)