Blood and Honor (1996)

After enjoying WEB Griffin's Honor Bound, I moved on to the second novel in this series of three, Blood and Honor. This novel continues the plotline in a highly parallel fashion. Once again, it is set in 1943, in Argentina at the height of WW II. The Germans are coming to the realization that they probably are not going to win the war, and are preparing for the worst- that there will be serious reparations like at the end of the first World War. The plan is to secretly smuggle out some serious cash, and hide it for later use.

The main protagonist is Clete Frede, the almost retired Marine who has a fortune in both the US as the heir apparent to an oil fortune, and in Argentina as the heir apparent to his father's fortune which includes sizable land holdings. Once again, the Germans are sending in a supply ship to aid their Southern Atlantic submarine fleet that has menaced British and American shipping (apparently both Axis & Allies were trading with the Argentinians for wool, beef, and other staple products during the war).

While much of the storyline sounds very similar, this is a completely different novel. In a major (WARNING: Plot Spoiler!) twist, Clete's father gets assassinated very early on, giving Clete a huge inheritance, and a struggle as he delves into his father's life and gets the know the man he barely knew. Also, his girlfriend, Dorotea, announces she is pregnant. Much of the middle of the novel focuses on the pomp, circumstance, and ritual surrounding the funeral, and the planning of the wedding (an interesting point/counterpoint of life and death). It turns out that the father was also involved in planning a coup d'etat, and this comes to fruition in Blood and Honor as well (it would appear that Argentina has more regime changes than most other countries...).

Don't think that this book doesn't have any military content. Clete still works for the OSS, and is involved with planning and executing the mission of finding the disguised sub tender. To that end, he needs a plane. In typical military fashion, the hardware he wants (this) isn't available, but he gets something "just as good," (this, which you can see is a lot bigger) which ends up presenting its own set of challenges as he has no experience in the larger plane, and it's too big for the improvised dirt runway. Finally, at the end, just when I expected the sinking of the ship, this novel goes off in a Godfather direction, and goes for revenge in a matter of fact way.

This longish novel did take me a while to get through. It's also a little confusing as there are several lengthy formal names both of Spanish and German derivation that did slow me down at times (especially the German ones). It is an enjoyable break from the traditional war novel genre, yet it incorporates some of the essential elements and quite simply defies a neat category.
The prose is especially strong, with crisp details that paint a descriptive picture in a concise fashion which is one of Griffin's signature items. This author also incorporates, in italics, the individual characters thoughts that combine in both the third person, and first person point of view simultaneously, which few other authors even attempt, and even fewer successfully pull off. At times I feel like this Honor Bound Series is like reading a script for a television mini series, and I can't wait to read the conclusion, Secret Honor.

Overall Grade: B+

Reviewed by Jonas

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