It appears that in the late 1970s and early 1980s, Bantam Books launched their “Bantam War Book” line of military-fiction paperbacks. In my research, Lyle Kenyon Engel packaged previously published novels from Ballantine and Bantam into reprints catering to military history fans and readers. In some cases these were brand new titles as with 1982’s “The Double Cross Squadron” by unknown author William Parker Evans. Copyright research seems to support the theory that Evans was a real person, but there's no evidence to suggest he wrote any other books. Whether Evans or someone else authored this book is anyone's guess. We may never find the answer, but what we do know is that “The Double Cross Squadron” kicks total ass.
The novel follows five special agents working for British intelligence in 1941, months after the Battle of Britain. These men, and one woman, are led by John King and have been intensively trained to be pilots in Germany's Third Reich Air Force. Hitting the Germans internally, through a strategic network known as Operation Eros, the “Double Cross Squadron” gain access to important German secrets used to thwart the Nazis. Interestingly, as much as this looks and feels like a daring WWII adventure tale, it's really a heist book in disguise.
King and company learn that the Nazis are importing a large shipment of industrial diamonds from Amsterdam. The Allies need the diamonds to continue manufacturing weapons – whoever has the most industrial diamonds can make the most sophisticated weaponry. An elaborate plan is hatched to intercept the diamonds during transfer. To make a successful getaway, King disguises himself as a German Commander, risks his team's lives, and jeopardizes the network of underground operatives that support him.
I can't give away too much in this review because I don't want to rob you of the enjoyment you'll surely receive by reading this novel. Evans, whoever he might be, is a superb writer and transforms what could have been a rather dry, complicated spy story into a fun, easy-read paperback ripe with humor and compelling characters. The author creates a unique “casino for spies” that really helps lighten the mood. Also, there's an unforgettable knitting scene between four Nazis in a bar...believe me you don't want to miss that.
“The Double Cross Squadron” should be on your shopping list. I'm hoping the other Bantam War Books are as equally entertaining. This one was a real treat and deserves a wider audience.
Buy a copy of this book HERE