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THE DE VALERA DECEPTION
By Michael McMenamin and Patrick McMenamin
Enigma Books, 2010 (Trade paper/UK version)
ISBN-10: 1936274086 (Hardcopy/US)
Reviewed by Larry Jung
If you enjoyed Jack Higgins's THE EAGLE HAS LANDED and Ken Follett's THE EYE OF THE NEEDLE, I can recommend to you THE DE VALERA DECEPTION. This is a thriller in the same tradition. THE DE VALERA DECEPTION is set in the decade (1929 - 1939) just before the start of World War II. Germany's ambition is to shake off the crippling conditions to Germany of the Treaty of Versailles and to once again vie to be the supreme European power on the continent. To this end Germany has committed its national budget to rearming itself (contravening the Treaty of Versailles) and has committed its foreign policy to regaining lost territory during World War I. With the emergence of Adolf Hitler out of the troubled the Weimar Republic, Germany has found a demagogue to lead it out of defeat. Germany's threat to European peace for the most part goes unheeded. There are even some in Great Britain who welcome Hitler and support Germany's bid to regain territory taken away during the end of World War I. It seems only a minority like Winston Churchill are willing to see the danger of Hitler and a revived German military to Europe and to England. Churchill's warnings, in speeches and newspaper articles, fall on deaf ears even within his own political party.
As the story opens, Germany has made a secret pact with Stalin's Soviet Union to divide up Poland. There is sympathy by Conservative members in Britain's government for restoring Danzig and the Polish Corridor back to Germany, both of which were taken away by the Treaty of Versailles. Two additional conditions favor Germany's invasion and annexation of Poland. Germany is obstinately a democracy, while Poland has for 3 years been under the rule of a dictator. Secondly the new Socialist government in Great Britain is pursuing an aggressive policy of disarmament.
To insure success, the German agent Kurt Sturm heads a plot to revive all out civil war in Ireland. An overthrow of the newly created Irish Free State by the IRA would distract England from caring about Poland's dismemberment by Germany and Russia. Sturm's plan is to first enlist the help of Eamon De Valera. De Valera was the head of the faction for an Ireland free from any ties with Great Britain. De Valera lost out to Michael Collins whose faction took a more favorable position towards England. The Irish Treaty of 1921 saw Michael Collins the head of the new Irish Free State and De Valera leaving for America. Sturm was able to buy De Valera for $10,000 to lend legitimacy for any government formed by the IRA.
Sturm's plan runs afoul when Winston Churchill learns about Germany spending 3 million dollars to buy weapons from America for the IRA. Churchill enlists the help of Bourke Cockran, Jr. to confirm the plot and to trace the money. Cockran is an American journalist and lawyer who helped play the role of go-between with the Irish and British during the truce of July 1921. He is also an Army MID agent trained to fight and has killed in the line of duty. He worked for Churchill during the Irish troubles in 1921, and Cockran's wife Nora was killed because of this work. Cockran soon becomes a thorn in Sturm's plans. The IRA enforcer Thomas McBride is sent to deal with Cockran. Along the way Mattie McGary, a photojournalist whom Churchill has also used before for undercover work, helps Cockran.
I enjoyed THE DE VALERA DECEPTION from first to last. The writers conveyed a sense of the time period right before World War II. The details are true to historical facts. The fictional thriller plot smoothly blends with historical events and historical characters. Though Bourke Cockran, Jr., Mattie McGary, and Thomas McBride do not stray much from the established stereotype square jaw hero, plucky heroine, and nasty villain, they still are fun to watch getting in and out of danger. There is plenty of romance and sex as well. As I said in the beginning of this review, give THE DE VALERA DECEPTION a read if you enjoy thrillers set around World War II.
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