By late 1944, the German military was desperate enough to send some 2,000 soldiers disguised as American troops, some with captured U.S. tanks and others with tanks disguised to look American, through Belgium and into France in hopes of disrupting the Allied response to what would soon become the Battle of the Bulge. Twenty of these soldiers, whose English language skills were exceptional, were given a second objective: the near-impossible task of assassinating General Dwight D. Eisenhower. Mark Frost has taken facts about the scheme, dubbed Operation Grief by German leadership, from recently declassified documents and used them as basis for his fine World War II thriller, The Second Objective.
Bernie Oster, who grew up in Brooklyn, finds himself in Germany at the start of the war only because his parents decide to return there in hopes of finding a better paying job for his father. Bernie is an auto mechanic by inclination and not really much of a soldier. But the fact that he speaks the kind of English that would never be questioned by an American soldier and is a product of American culture makes him a perfect addition to the team of twenty assigned to kill Eisenhower. Even more unfortunately for Bernie, he is handpicked by the sociopathic SS lieutenant in charge of the twenty-man team to work directly alongside him.
Young Bernie considers himself to be an American and has no intention of killing American soldiers, least of all someone like General Eisenhower. But he soon realizes that, despite the capture and execution by firing squad of so many of his team, the ruthless Lieutenant Von Leinsdorf has a good chance of achieving “the second objective,” an even better chance with Bernie helping him to blend in with the American troops they encounter in the field and in French cities as they make their way ever closer to Eisenhower headquarters.
With the clock relentlessly ticking, Oster has to decide if, because of his love and respect for the America he was forced to leave behind, he is willing to die the certain death of a spy caught wearing the opposition’s uniform behind its lines. Is there any way he can stop, or even slow down, Von Leinsdorf without exposing himself to the firing squad? Will the jaded ex-NYPD detective Earl Gannit, now a member of the military police and hot on their trail, be able to stop Eisenhower’s potential assassin? Can Oster find a way to help him do just that? Does he dare?
Mark Frost creates an extraordinary amount of suspense as all paths begin to merge at Eisenhower’s supposedly well-protected headquarters outside Paris. Thriller fans will not be disappointed when Eisenhower, Oster, Von Leinsdorf and Gannit finally come face-to-face for the showdown that Adolph Hitler hopes will change the course of the war.