A dead German in a whorehouse bed. A pair of bloated corpses floating in a Mississippi bayou. A mysterious notebook filled with unknown codes and hand drawn maps. Brave young Marines and Navajo code talkers landing in the Pacific. A Mafia Don helping the Allies for revenge on the Fascists. A secret meeting of U.S. marshals with a New Orleans crime boss. A series of anagrams challenging the code-breaking talents of the brilliant minds at Bletchley Park. A gathering of international intelligence officers onboard a ship in the western Mediterranean. A Nazi plot to sabotage the production of Higgins landing craft without which Americans would never be able to land safely on a foreign beach.
SYNOPSIS — NAZI SABOTEURS ON THE BAYOU — Steven Burgauer
As the book opens, an old German (Heinrich Brock) is found dead by a prostitute (Kentucky Rose) in Mahogany Hall, a New Orleans whorehouse. Sewn into the lining of the dead man’s vest is a notebook filled with hand-drawn maps and what appear to be notes about the comings and goings at military and other installations. The prostitute and an associate (Hector) remove these articles with a view to later disposing of the body.
The next scene finds a pair of German conspirators fretting that their local contact (the dead German) is overdue. We next meet the Mafia crime boss (Nico Carolla) who owns a string of whorehouses and who is soon drawn into the disposition of the corpse from the opening scene. Here we learn some of the history of the Carolla crime family in New Orleans.
Next, we move to the Pacific and meet the grandson of the dead German from the opening scene. PFC Russell Brock is a U.S. Marine currently being trained for the amphibious landings at Guadalcanal.
Then we meet Andrew Jackson Higgins at the helm of the single most important landing craft ever built, the Higgins Boat, the steel-ramped landing craft that brought American troops to Pacific islands and to Normandy. In his colorful manner, Higgins is instructing a class of Coast Guard newbies on how to properly drive and operate his nearly indestructible boat.
Now we meet officials from the Navy’s Bureau of Ships who need Higgins to markedly increase the production of his boats. Higgins faces shortages of materials, manpower, and factory space that present almost insurmountable challenges. The Mafia bosses control much of the labor supply, and thus, accommodations must be made to placate the Carolla family. The Carolla family also has Old World connections in Palermo and Algiers which are proving critical to the North African landings in sixty days.
We next witness the arrival of the Waffen-SS officers charged with sabotaging the Higgins Boat plant essential to the Allies’ success. The loss of the intelligence gathered by the dead German at the start of the story is a setback to the commando team’s plans. The operation is under the direct control of Heinrich Himmler, who the team now communicates with as to how next to proceed. Now enter the code breakers at Bletchley Park who intercept the commando team’s messages. We meet some of the talented code breakers at Bletchley, including one female mathematician through whose eyes we see inside Bletchley Park.
America has a fledging intelligence operation and is almost entirely dependent on British intelligence for intelligence gathering. We now meet Martina Amerada, a Cuban woman with a high-level banking responsibility, including ties to British intelligence, and who is Nico Carolla’s mistress. Martina moves money for the Carolla crime family and also provides diplomatic cover between the Palermo branch of the family and the planners of Operation Torch, the imminent invasion of North Africa. We gain insight into those plans through the eyes of Ian Fleming whose 30 Assault Unit is responsible for dirty tricks all throughout the western Mediterranean. We are also introduced to the Navajo code-talker program essential to securing Marine Corps messages in the Pacific theater.
In rapid succession, the German commando team searches for the lost notebook by visiting the whorehouses Brock has been known to frequent. This search leads to the murder of Hector and later to retaliation by the Mafia against the German conspirators. The battle results in the loss of half of the German commando team. United States marshals are drawn into the story as bodies are discovered in the nearby bayous. The Mafia is suspected in these crimes. When the marshals confront Nico Carolla, the marshals are put on the trail of the commandos which leads to the death of the marshals.
While Bletchley Park is busy trying to crack the code imbedded in the Himmler messages, we move back to the Pacific where grandson PFC Russell Brock is involved in the bloody landings at Gavutu ahead of Guadalcanal. The grandson is wounded and nearly dies at nearly the same moment that the single remaining commando attempts to demolish the largest Higgins Boat manufacturing facility in New Orleans, as well as the surrounding infrastructure.
By now, British intelligence has cracked Himmler’s code and Martina Amerada, our Cuban contact, has alerted both the Mafia and the Navy of the impending assault. Nico Carolla prevents the plant from being destroyed and thus becomes the hero of the story.
In the closing chapters, Fleming’s 30AU infiltrates Italian naval headquarters at Sidi Ferruch the very night that Operation Torch gets underway and the Higgins boats prove their indispensability to the war effort. PFC Brock recovers from his wounds in a naval hospital, soon to attend Higgins Boat Operators School to learn how to handle a landing craft. Martina takes possession of all intelligence related to the German commandos so that the threat never becomes public knowledge.
Nazi Saboteurs on the Bayou intertwines historic persons, actual events and distant locales of World War II with a fast-moving fictional Nazi plot to disrupt the manufacture of Higgins boats, the remarkable landing craft that won the war for the Allies. Spanning the globe from amphibious landings at Gavutu and Guadalcanal, to the Navajo code talker school near San Diego, to the exotic environs of New Orleans, to the secret world of Bletchley Park, England, to the Allied invasion of North Africa, this tautly written thriller, covering two weeks during the summer of 1942, combines a fully imagined cast of characters with the historically important figures of Andrew Jackson Higgins, Admiral John Godfrey of British Intelligence, Navajo code talker Chester Nez, Colonel “Wild Bill” Donovan of the OSS (later the CIA), Commander Ian Fleming of MI6, along with a Polish intelligence officer code-named “Rygor,” and Sylvestro “Silver Dollar Sam” Carolla, the crime boss of New Orleans.
Avid hiker, Eagle Scout, and founder of a mutual fund, Steven Burgauer resides in Florida. A graduate of Illinois State University and the New York Institute of Finance, Steve writes science fiction and historic fiction.
Burgauer’s The Road to War: Duty & Drill, Courage & Capture is based on the journals of an American WWII infantryman who landed at Normandy, was wounded and taken prisoner by the Nazis.
A member of the Society of Midland Authors, Steven is included in The Dictionary of Midwestern Literature, Volume 2: Dimensions of the Midwestern Literary Imagination.
Some of his SF titles include The Grandfather Paradox, The Railguns of Luna, The Fornax Drive, and SKULLCAP. Other books of his include The Night of the Eleventh Sun, a Neanderthal’s first encounter with man, and The Wealth Builder’s Guide: An Investment Primer. Steven contributed to the zany, serial mystery, Naked Came the Farmer, headlined by Philip Jose Farmer.
His work has been reviewed in many places, including LOCUS, SCIENCE FICTION CHRONICLE, the PEORIA JOURNAL STAR, the EUREKA LITERARY MAGAZINE, and PROMETHEUS, the journal of the Libertarian Futurist Society.
A review of The Railguns of Luna from the prestigious SCIENCE FICTION CHRONICLE (June 2001):
Steven Burgauer writes old style science fiction in which heroes and villains are easily identified, the action is fast and furious, and the plot twists and turns uncontrollably. His newest is the story of a crack team of military specialists who discover that the brilliant but warped Cassandra Mubarak is planning to use advanced scientific devices to seize control of the world. To stop her, they must infiltrate her heavily guarded headquarters and rescue the fair maiden in distress. This is action adventure written straightforwardly and not meant to be heavily literary or provide pithy commentary on the state of humanity.
When Steven lived in Illinois, the State of Illinois Library included him in a select group of authors invited to the state’s Authors’ Day. He has often been a speaker and panel member at public library events and science-fiction conventions all across the country.
His website is: http://sites.google.com/site/stevenburgauer