THE COUNTERFEIT CONSUL
an eBook novel
A French intelligence officer prepares to leave Paris with orders to set in motion a sabotage operation in America. It promises to become either a career enhancing proposition or very likely the end of his career. WWI is raging in Europe and America is still neutral. But the spymasters in the French capital want to put an end to the highly profitable practice of allowing the Americans to manufacture munitions for the Germans that are in turn being used against them on the battlefield. Set against a portrait of pre-war New York City in 1916, the officer’s mission is the destruction of armament warehouses on a Hoboken, New Jersey pier. But when the Military Attaché at the Imperial German Consulate learns of the plot, he makes immediate plans to deal with it.
Review by Readers’ Favorite - 4 stars
Gerard Le Caillec is the counterfeit consul, just one of many disguises he has held in his career in the French Foreign Intelligence Service. Quiet, unassuming, and (to his superiors) utterly expendable, Gerard struggles for promotion. He is handed an excellent opportunity to make or break his career when he is posted to the New York City office of the service. It involves the destruction of armament warehouses on a Hoboken, New Jersey pier. The plot is set in 1916, against a backdrop of a world at war in Europe, and a neutral America supplying arms and munitions to both sides. The French hope that by bombing the warehouses, the American public will become aware of America’s duplicity and protest against this hypocritical stance. Either way, the French hope to force America either to join the battle on the side of the allies or cease supplying the Germans. Gerard is brilliant at one particular aspect of his job: recruiting agents. His unassuming personality enables him to tap into the weaknesses and foibles of his targets and lure them into his mode of operations. On the orders of his superiors in Paris, he focuses on Armand Barsoum, a weak, spendthrift playboy, the scion of a prestigious French banking firm, working in their New York division. Armand tends to go for fast women and slow horses, a deadly combination that soon has him bankrupt and susceptible to Gerard’s offer of money. However, Gerard wonders if Armand is indeed the right person to set the dynamite and bomb the warehouses. Armand tries wriggle out of their agreement and blurts his involvement to Trudy Gehr, a coarse German-born woman living in Hoboken. She, in turn informs a friend who informs…and when the Military Attaché at the Imperial German Consulate in New York learns of the plot, he makes immediate plans to deal with it.
This is an original spy novel with much to enjoy. The author’s style suits the era and the subject matter. The intricacies of the plot unfold carefully, almost too slowly in the beginning as the author sets the scene for what is potentially an international firestorm. I enjoyed the meticulous details bringing the various characters to life. The author also paints an incredibly detailed picture of the New York of the early twentieth century: loud, tawdry, corrupt, and filled with clubs, drinkers, bookies, gamblers, and good-time gals. In this, the author succeeds admirably in taking the reader back to another era. Although some editing could speed up the pace of the action, the unfolding of events brings its own suspense-filled timing. With an interesting final twist to the tale, this is a great read for readers who enjoy historical and spy thrillers. (First Reviewed by Fiona I. for Readers’ Favorite)
Review by Book Stack Reviews
Rogers cleverly sets up the era and intrigue with his writing style and historical details. In keeping with a sense of the time, it is not a fast paced thriller but a more considered and involved read. The tension builds as our hero attempts to recruit an agent and execute his ill formed plan, and as the plot unfolded I found myself willing him on despite all his flaws. The character portraits of each nationality are nicely done and highlight the conflicts that were raging across the Atlantic, while the twist at the end was a satisfying surprise.