UNGENTLEMANLY WARFARE by Howard Linskey

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A Detective Varg Novel, Book 2

From the publisher:

Perfect for fans of Brad Taylor, Lee Child, and Brad Thor who are looking for their next adventure—UNGENTLEMANLY WARFARE has all their exhilarating action but with a twist—Linskey is taking readers back to history’s darkest hours….

A secret assassin. An impossible mission. Failure is not an option. 

1943. With Nazi Germany facing defeat, Reichsmarschall Hermann Göring has authorized mass production of the Messerschmitt Me 163 Komet, a jet-propulsion engine aircraft faster than any plane in the Allies’ arsenal. But British Intelligence has discovered that the Komet is unstable and German scientist Professor Gaerte has been tasked to fix the plane’s flaw. To prevent the Komets from getting airborne, an undercover task force must infiltrate Nazi-occupied France and assassinate Gaerte.

Captain Harry Walsh is one of Britain’s most effective, ruthless, and unorthodox Special Operations Executive agents. Allied with an American OSS and Free French operatives, Harry leads his squad behind enemy lines where he’s reunited with fellow SOE operative—and former lover—Emma Stirling. But as the team proceeds with their mission, an SS officer from Harry’s past pursues the Englishman on a very personal mission of revenge . . .


Well done story of all-out war and how it really affects the people involved in it. Captain Harry Walsh is a member of the British SOE (Special Operations Executive.) His experiences include several cover-up visits to Vichy, France during the Nazi occupation of that country during World War II. He takes the waging of war as something very serious with no quarter asked nor given. In his mind, there can be no gallantry nor any rules other than to win.

He is married to a beautiful woman who stays at home in England during Harry’s visits overseas and is only concerned with acting as she thinks a woman should act. Harry realized shortly after the wedding that it was a mistake but stays on because that is just the thing to do. He is comforted by an affair with Emma Stirling who is also an SOE operator and has clandestine visits to occupied France under her belt.

The story takes place in 1943 during a period when it appears that Germany was beginning to lose the war and Hitler was searching for a way to forestall that taking place. One of the most promising ideas is the development of a jet-propelled plane, which if placed into mass production, would make the German air force almost invincible. Its use against aircraft capable of speeds only half of what the Jet can do would negate all enemy planes making them useless as weapons. Fortunately for the allies, the German jet has design problems which must be corrected before any mass production can take place. But Germany has an engineer who would probably be able to find the problems, fix them and get the new airplane ready for mass production and use against allied aircraft.

The SOE believes that the only solution in this instance is to kill the engineer with that action pushing mass production back several months or longer. Harry Walsh is assigned to go into France where the German engineer will be working and kill him. He will be aided by an American who is a member of the OSS (the precursor of the CIA) and a Frenchman who had worked with the French underground and knows their systems and placements. In addition, Emma Stirling insinuates herself into the group and is included in the event that a woman could be useful in arranging the murder planned.

Linskey has done his research and the conditions described are certainly those that prevailed during the period covered. The Nazis are depicted as cruel conquerors freely executing people in order to prove their points and maintaining complete fear-based control over the conquered population. In addition, he brings up two individuals that were active during the war. The first is Ian Fleming the later author of the James Bond novels whom Linskey indicates probably got his inspiration for the weapons used by Bond from an actual department that served agents of the SOE. The other is Kim Philby, who later in his life is an infamous undercover agent for the Soviet
Union.

The members of the French underground are drawn realistically. They are fearful for both themselves and their families all subject to execution if caught in activities against the conquerors There is no trace of false bravado only the fear that must be conquered if they are to win their country back. The novel ends with the war still on and the invasion of Europe on the horizon. It is also a certainty that further novels are planned around the participation of Harry Walsh and his fellow members of the SOE doing their part in the winning of the war in Europe. And that is definitely not a bad thing.

5/2020 Paul Lane

UNGENTLEMANLY WARFARE by Howard Linskey. Pinnacle (April 28, 2020). ISBN: 978-0786046881. 368p.

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