Peacetime scene from Waikiki Beach, circa 1939
The Final Secret
(Wynwidyn Press, 2017)
Mickey Mathews grew up and attended Central High in the Vehicle City of Flint, Michigan. Starring in football and baseball at Michigan Normal College (later renamed Eastern Michigan), he graduated in the Class of 1933. Mickey became a good writer, publishing two novels by 1940. In early 1941, his publisher sent him to Hawaii to write about an oft-rumored attack by Japan against US Pacific bases, notably Pearl Harbor. Arriving at Oahu in March, Mickey made new friends, notably Frank Tuttle, a retired Army major, librarian Patty Gilbert, later his fiancee, Nisei driver Dickie Makumo, soon a confidante, and Nisei writer Ronny Karamatsu, a reporter. By summer Mickey was hired to write a weekly newspaper column on world events, notably German and Japanese aggression. As the US edged closer to war that fall, Mickey and Frank and their friends uncover enemy secrets, try to solve the murder of a Nisei restaurant owner's daughter, and cooperate with Lieutenant Charley Barrett and the Honolulu Police to ferret out enemy plans. Can they discover the final secret in time to avoid a Japanese attack in December of 1941?
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Final Secret Review
Final Secret is a page turner in the sense of classic noir detective novels and World War II spy novels. Thrown in is a history lesson explaining how the war began in the Pacific between the Japanese and the United States. As is appropriate for such books, the reader finds beautiful buxom blonds, dangerous spies and murderers, and an innocent young woman whom the main protagonist, Mickey Mathews, wants to love and marry. Writing a newspaper column, Mickey, a novelist from Michigan, not only breaks up an enemy spy ring in Hawaii but also publishes columns on why the Japanese will attack Pearl Harbor. At length he figures the attack will occur on a Sunday, perhaps in early December. Still, the best part of Final Secret is the many plot turns and well-prepared dangerous situations.
A very different approach is the author’s depiction of the Nisei. They are loyal American citizens who help our hero foil the nefarious plots of the Japanese spies working out of the Honolulu consulate as well as the German agents helping the Japanese. The Nisei are intelligent and speak well and are brave. Sometimes they disguise themselves by acting in stereotypical ways to deflect attention from themselves as they go about collecting vital information. All in all, Mickey’s new friends mesh well as they move toward Japan’s anticipated attack.
-Tony Travis, Grand Rapids, Michigan-July 20, 2018