There’s only one man for the job—Roy Hawkins. The British Secret Intelligence Service has put their half-American star agent in tough spots before and he’s always come out on top. But this time Hawkins is headed to Mexico, where the vibrant art scene and tight-knit German expatriate community obscure the paintings’ ultimate purpose. As he tracks the art from Veracruz to Mexico City, Hawkins struggles to see the Nazis’ endgame. For the first time, he doesn’t speak the language and he doesn’t know the players—but he does know how to fight Fascists. Problem is, in the “get along and go along” culture of wartime profiteering, distinguishing between the true believers and the opportunists is no easy task.
Can Hawkins untangle the false leads and double crosses before the Nazis realize their sinister plan?
Set in 1940, Dudley's uneven sequel to 2018's New York Station finds undercover SIS agent Roy Hawkins on a mission to Bermuda. On a ship bound for Mexico, Hawkins discovers crates containing canvases worth millions by major artists, including Braque, van Gogh, and Picasso. The paintings are being smuggled to the West by Germans, having been confiscated as "degenerate art" from Jewish collections in occupied European countries. Hawkins decides to let the precious cargo continue on to Mexico to uncover what the Germans are planning. After a laborious opening, the action picks up in Mexico, where Hawkins meets such real-life notables as exiled Russian revolutionary Leon Trotsky and the "it" couple of Mexico's art world, Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera, and gets an intriguing view of Mexican politics. Unfortunately, Dudley often wields his historical expertise clumsily with excessive exposition and an unnecessary level of detail, and he goes too far in giving Hawkins, an earnest, refreshingly unconfident spy, a complex psychological backstory. Still, fans of WWII-era capers may want to check this out.