Thursday, February 17, 2022

The Killers 1: To Win and To Lose by Klaus Nettson

The Killers 1
To Win and To Lose
by Klaus Nettson aka Klaus Netzen (Laurence James)
1974 Mayflower, Zebra

John Standish is a forger turned anti-Nazi operative who's a part of the Killers, a loose international network of anti-Nazi criminals. His mission is to introduce forged currency into occupied Poland and rescue a British operative, Leslie Peters, before he's forced to reveal intelligence to the Gestapo.

Standish and his assassin/painter colleague Marreq navigate through Nazi checkpoints, organize a raid of a Nazi detention center, and escape via France during the evacuation at Dunkirk. All the while dealing with Peters, who aside from being a competent organizer is a bigoted, whining, rapist swine.

The moral compass of the Killers series is skewed by the notion that smaller sins, like murdering innocents to avoid detection, are necessary to fight the ultimate evil of Nazi Germany. One could ponder the ethical implications, but here it's justification for an exploitation novel to essentially follow a gang of psychopaths as the heroes.

The violence is ugly and brutal. Knife fights slipping on the emptied bowels of a strangled sex worker. Body parts showering down after an explosion. Pleasure boats ankle deep in vomit from hundreds of evacuating soldiers. A man struggling to stay conscious long enough to empty his veins with a safety pin.

Good plotting and historical details keep the story moving, even if half the pages seem to involve hanging around safehouses.

Paperback from Amazon

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