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Double Cross Blind    by Joel N. Ross order for
Double Cross Blind
by Joel N. Ross
Order:  USA  Can
Doubleday, 2005 (2005)
Hardcover, Audio, CD
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

This historical spy thriller begins on December 1, 1941 as Tommy Wall (a Yank who enlisted with the Canadians and was badly wounded) escapes from the Rowansea Royal Hospital, 'once packed to the rafters with the shell-shocked husks of the Great War' and now being filled by World War II. Tommy is obsessed by his desire for revenge on his own brother, Earl whom he blames for the betrayal and deaths of the men under his command in Crete.

English spies are after Tommy too - they need him to pretend to be Earl, in order to protect the secrets of the 'Twenty Committee', a complex network of double agents, set up to operate so that effectively 'the Abwehr's entire organization in England was being run by the British.' This priceless resource could change the course of the war, as long as its control by the English is kept secret from the Germans. Unfortunately, Nazi agent Dietrich Sondegger is on the verge of discovering the double cross. Oddly, he's surrendered himself to the British, and demands to see Earl. This very scary puppet master manipulates and mesmerizes those around him, even in captivity. Tom pretends to be Earl and is sent to do Sondegger's bidding, while pursuing his own search for his brother. This quest takes him to a nightclub called The Rapids.

Lurking on the edges of the main action is another Nazi spy, a young woman whose code name is Duckblind. This horrifically ruthless sociopath kills far too easily and cheerfully. Who is she? Other key players are Earl's wife Harriet (whom Tommy once romanced and still loves). Harriet lives in 'a world of secrets', runs female British agents, and feels each one's loss hard whenever they are discovered and tortured. Her fascist father, Lord Chilton, also takes a hand in events, hiring two brutal thugs, with whom Tom has several encounters, mostly to his detriment. And at The Rapids, Tom meets young, naive, exuberant Audrey, who knew his brother and helps him. For reasons of his own, Sondegger sets Tom on the trail of information about Pearl Harbor, resulting in a race against time to convince authorities, as well as to save the 'Twenty Committee'.

Double Cross Blind is a brilliant spy story, based on many real events, including the role of the 'Twenty Committee' in feeding the Germans detailed misinformation about D-Day (a brief Author's Note at the end summarizes this role). Tommy Wall is an appealing damaged hero, who slowly emerges from trauma to sort out his life, and his love, again. Don't miss this one.

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