Tuesday, November 20, 2012


By Richard Whitten Barnes
Historical 361 pages
Cover art by Trisha FitzGerald
ISBN 978-1-61309-100.5   $7.50
ISBN 978-1-61309-903-2   $12.95
It’s 1941, and Riza Manceda, a beautiful American intelligence officer, needs someone to impersonate a Japanese officer for a dangerous mission to her homeland of the Philippines. Her search uncovers the ideal man in Daniel Suhiro, a first generation Nisei with perfect credentials for the job…but maybe not so perfect.

The mission is to prevent the Japanese from discovering the Allies have broken their “unbreakable” Purple code.  This secret could shorten – or lengthen – the war by years, and is known by an officer captured in Luzon. Riza and Daniel train to either rescue the officer or, if necessary, assassinate him.

The compelling story of their harrowing venture meticulously comes to life as the pair becomes drawn closer to each other and then thrown headlong into incredible peril.

They drove around for a good hour until they found a diner, its unlit sign swinging crazily in the gusts off the Delaware River. Both ordered the two-dollar special, staying as long as possible in the warmth of the place.

Daniel was worried about money. “We need to fill up the car. That’ll take three dollars. Dinner will cost us maybe five with dessert. We spent over a dollar for lunch on the way up, and then a place to stay tonight…”

It was well on toward 9:00 p.m. before they gave up the back booth they’d commandeered. They paid their bill, asking the big guy behind the register to recommend a place to stay that wasn’t expensive.

“Staley’s Tourist Court, back a mile to the highway. Take a right. You’ll see it on the left.”

They found the place easily enough, and both entered the larger of the cabins, an electric sign identifying it as the office.

“Hello?” Daniel called.

The sound of a fork or a knife on china, the scrape of a chair preceded a woman who appeared from the rear of the house—a dour face and severe black dress.

“Yes?” Daniel could sense her appraising this Asian man and foreign looking woman. He felt awkward in their rough clothing of the camp.

It occurred to Daniel they hadn’t discussed sleeping arrangements. “We’d like…” The hesitation was so painful, it was almost funny.

Riza finished for him. “A cabin, please. How much are they?”

The woman looked back and forth between them. “They’re five dollars a night, thirty for the week. No cooking.”

“Just one night,” Daniel said.


“Suhiro—Daniel Suhiro.”

 “Mr. and Mrs,” Riza added.

“Number four,” the woman said, handing Riza the key on a Bakelite fob. “In advance,” she said to Daniel.

He fumbled a ten out of his wallet and waited for the change. Riza was already out the door, wrestling a small duffle out of the Plymouth. Daniel got his gym bag from the car and followed her to the cabin, some twenty yards away.

He arrived as she was turning on the lone lamp in the tiny sitting room.

The cabin consisted of that room, a bedroom barely large enough for a double bed, side table and small dresser, and a small bathroom, with commode, sink and ancient bathtub on legs. He needed to use that commode—badly.

When he was finished, he found Riza working the oil heater, which was just beginning to offer some warmth to the place.

“What now?” he said

“What do you mean?”

“Stop it, Riza. You know damn well what I mean.”

“Well, if you think the ‘Mr. and Mrs. Story gives you a leg up, think again.”

Daniel looked around the small parlor. Two small chairs bracketed the table with the lamp—another chair next to the door by an end table. There wasn’t going to be any sleeping on the sofa tonight. He decided to put the issue aside, and took one of the chairs.

“So what’s the plan for tomorrow?” he said

“If we’re going to steal something important, it will have to be at night. I thought we could stay here until the afternoon, go into the building and hide somewhere until they lock up.”

“Then what? Can we even access the top floor?”

“We’ll have to play it by ear,” she said.


Cheryl Norman said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Cheryl Norman said...

I loved this book. Now my husband is reading it, and he agrees that it is similar to W.E.B. Griffin's writing. (That's a compliment, Richard)