E. Thomas Behr has written a fun to read, suspenseful story in Doppelgänger: An American Spy in World War II France. Our protagonist, Walter, is an American citizen living in Paris during the German invasion in early 1940. As a non-combatant, he is allowed to remain in Paris and while there witnesses the Nazi atrocities. He develops a desire to join the U.S. military with the belief that the U.S. will soon enter the war against Germany.
Walter's goal is interrupted when he approached and recruited into the OSS and after training, is sent back into France to collect intelligence and support the French resistance. His achievements are significant enough that the Nazis soon put a price on his head. Bouncing around France, living in different locations, and using a number of false identities, Walter manages to stay one step ahead of his pursuers.
What he can't expect, however, is that in early 1944, his spy masters will initiate steps that include betraying him to the Nazis, all in an effort to further the Allies deception plan regarding the exact location for the D-Day invasion. The cat and mouse game Walter has been playing becomes much more dangerous.
Despite some formatting issues with the eBook I reviewed, I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a good suspense-filled read.
Review by Bob Doerr (March 2019)
If you do battle with evil, sooner or later you pick up evil’s weapons yourself. Then you risk becoming what you seek to destroy. When the German army overwhelms France in June, 1940, Walter Hirsch’s safe, carefully-ordered intellectual life as a writer in Paris is shattered. A choking cloud of fear—Nacht und Nebel—settles over his beloved City of Light. He is recruited to join Bill Donovan’s fledgling American intelligence service, the OSS. The American-born son of an aristocratic Prussian father, his flawless German and impeccable French—and his innate ability to change cover stories like a chameleon—make him an ideal espionage agent. But his dedication to his country comes at a high price. With each new lie, a little more of his identity fades, like a face in an aging sepia photograph. With each new cold-blooded execution, a little more of his soul shrivels. “Bill Donovan was right,” he realizes. “When you become a spy, the first person you have to kill is your former self.” In April 1944, now with a Gestapo bounty of three million francs on his head, a burned-out Walter is ordered to Calais to scout German beach defenses and troop movement prior to the invasion of France. His new assignment plunges him into a world of treachery and betrayal in which not even his own government can be trusted. Ultimately, his survival depends on the efforts of England’s most lethal SOE assassin, the “Black Widow,” a woman with her own mysterious connection to Walter Hirsch. But even if her daring rescue mission succeeds, what will remain of the man she has come to save? Can the cost of preserving freedom have become too unbearably high?
ISBN/ASIN: ISBN 9781731047878 ASIN: B07KDWWBYZ
Book Format(s): Soft cover, Kindle
Review Genre: Fiction—Historical Fiction
Number of Pages: 374