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Curtain Of Death
Clandestine Operations # 3
W.E.B. Griffin, William Butterworth IV

G. P. Putnam
12/27/2016/ ISBN

Reviewed by Elise Cooper

Curtain Of Death by W.E.B. Griffin and William Butterworth IV present a fact filled novel about the early days of what will become the CIA. Even though the period between WWII and the Cold War is intense in itself these authors were able to make the plot even more riveting.

The story reflects Griffin’s own experiences during the mid 1940s in war torn Germany. It becomes obvious that the clandestine agents must not only deal with the Nazis trying to escape to Latin America, but an entirely different kind of war. The enemy has changed, the rules have changed; and the stakes have never been higher.

Butterworth IV explained, “Dad lived this period, knew the principles from having worked with General White and others, so he wrote most of this book. And I added what I could. A good editor has an invisible hand in the work, making suggestions and edits that help the story without changing the writer’s distinctive voice. While W.E.B. said, “I was there when I was a kid. I knew and saw a lot. The Nazi General Reinhard Gehlen, who became the head of German intelligence in the, 1940s, did work for us to save his people from the Russians. Also true are the Operations OST, Paperclip, and Odessa.”

The time is January 1946, the setting Munich Germany, and the protagonists are the men and women fighting a covert war. The plot begins with two WACs and intelligence analysts kidnapped by four KGB agents. Unfortunately for them one of the women, Claudette Colbert, hid a pistol in her bra, and shoots three of her assailants, wounding a fourth. Readers take the journey with the DCI-Europe unit as they navigate through the conflicts within the different US agencies and with the two logistical enemies, Russia and the Nazis.

The authors noted, “We also had many good women who played a prominent role in 1940s Germany as spies and intelligence analysts. Characters in the story like my fictional Claudette Colbert were real and did carry pistols, but the idea of her hiding it in her brassiere was mine. They did this because we could not afford to have them kidnapped. Seven-K was a character I created. She was based on some Mossad agents who did work with us in exchange for getting Zionists out of Russia. There are fascinating stories of women spies in the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), the predecessor to the CIA, and their missions are the stuff of legend. Yet the contributions made by the 4,000 women, including Julia Child and Marlene Dietrich are largely unheralded. Exceptions include Elizabeth McIntosh’s book Women of the OSS: Sisterhood Of Spies.”

Curtain of Death is a novel that mixes intrigue and diplomacy within a suspenseful and enthralling story. An added bonus is the sarcasm and humor sprinkled throughout the scenes.

Reviews of other titles in the series

The Assassination Option #2


Reviewed 2017