Yes, we all know you’re supposed to check your brains at the door when launching into a Jack Higgins thriller. And often — Solo, The Eagle Has Landed, etc. — it’s a pleasure to do so. This time, however, Higgins wants us to swallow stuff that’s not just over the top but also over-the-hill. Cold Harbour; already making itself comfortable on the best-seller lists (thanks to the Higgins byline and a Nazi officer’s hat on the cover), is a shameless hash of plotlets and mini-melodramas from the archives of multimedia schlock.
You see, it’s a month or so before D-Day, and beauteous Anne-Marie Trevaunce, at her occupied chateau in occupied France, is about to entertain Field Marshal Erwin Rommel — and maybe worm some nifty war secrets out of him for the Allies. So when Anne-Marie is suddenly knocked out of commission, British Intelligence cajoles and badgers her estranged twin, Genevieve, an English nurse, into impersonating Anne-Marie! And Genevieve, while puffing conscientiously on Anne-Marie’s Gitanes, finds herself falling for an SS colonel with “vivid blue eyes.”
To be fair, Cold Harbour does improve slightly in the last 100 pages, when OSS agent Craig Osbourne, war hero and “Yale man,” discovers that Genevieve has been the unwitting pawn of a ruthless British spymaster — and sets off to rescue her, disguised as a Nazi officer (complete with swastika-flying E-boat and German-speaking crew). But, with nonstop stereotypes and gee-whiz cameos (FDR, Ike, George VI), this is recommended only for those who consider Eye of the Needle experimental fiction.” D