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TOP SECRET: OSS/CIA Missions and Mishaps

As seen through the eyes of Special Agent Hal Schroeder

The immediate post-war years, 1945-1950, were an espionage clusterfuck for the USA. And Hal Schroeder got to experience it all firsthand.

President Truman disbanded the OSS right after WWII because Americans didn’t approve of spying. And J. Edgar Hoover wanted the FBI to run the show. (continued below)


Post-war Berlin was supposedly ruled by the victorious Allies, but was actually run by thugs on all sides. It wasn’t till late ’47 that Harry Truman figured out the Yanks were locked in a Cold War with their former ally, and established the CIA.

Unfortunately, the young Agency relied heavily on their more experienced British espionage cohorts, five of whom had converted to Communism during their college education at Cambridge.

As Hal Schroeder lamented about that time: “If this were prizefight, they would have stopped it two rounds ago.”

Stephen Smoke
Hal Schroeder is destined to join the ranks of classic characters in American fiction.


A Pure Double Cross: Book 1

Cleveland, 1945 — OSS spy Hal Schroeder returns from two harrowing years behind German lines. The horrors of war have left him bitter and cynical. The FBI recruits him to infiltrate the Cleveland mob and conduct a series of sting operations targeting crime boss Teddy Briggslavski, alias, Mr. Big. Hal signs on, planning to double cross the feds, pocket their front money, and disappear.

Hal struggles to walk the double cross tightrope between the G-men and the mobsters until the FBI gives him the final sting, a huge payroll heist. Hal Schroeder goes to his long-sought meeting with Mr. Big; confident he can turn the heist plan to his advantage and make off with a bundle. But he gets a very unpleasant surprise.

Sarah Branham
John Knoerle is such a smart writer. The humor, heart and intrigue in A Despicable Profession is great.

A Despicable Profession: Book 2

May, 1946. America is basking in hard-won peace and prosperity. The OSS has been disbanded, CIA does not yet exist. Rumors swirl about the Red Army massing tanks along the Elbe in East Germany. Former OSS agent Hal Schroeder gets an offer from Global Commerce LTD to be a trade rep in Berlin. He flies to New York to meet his new boss.

Hal’s jaw drops when former OSS Chief Wild Bill Donovan strides in. Schroeder, who survived perilous duty behind German lines, says he is no longer interested in being a spy. General Donovan assures him that’s not part of his job description. Hal comes to doubt that when he meets his immediate superior in Berlin. It’s Victor Jacobson, the case officer who sent him on repeated suicide missions in WWII.

Kirkus Reviews
Knoerle hits precisely the right note of humility and bravado when his protagonist, American Office of Strategic Services agent Hal Schroeder, declares in the novel’s prologue: “You wouldn’t believe how much crap you get credit for when you’re a hero.”

The Proxy Assassin: Book 3

October, 1948. Former OSS agent Hal Schroeder gets an invitation to Washington D.C. from Frank Wisner, who heads the CIA’s new covert opps division. Hal is whisked off to Wisner’s Maryland shore retreat and introduced to a brace of Romanian royals, including the scarily beautiful Princess Stela Varadja, a direct descendant of Vlad Tepes Draculea.

Then Frank Wisner pops the question. Would Hal consider parachuting into a remote mountain camp to meet with the leader of a group of Romanian anti-Communist guerillas?

‘I had already survived two previous suicide missions and a third did not appeal. But I told Frank Wisner I would need a few days to think it over. I had some sightseeing to do.’

As it turns out Hal Schroeder gets to do a lot more sightseeing than he bargained for. A journey that brings the American Spy Trilogy to a surprising, and emotional, conclusion.

Phil Brody
John Knoerle has mastered the art of less is more. In The Proxy Assassin he strings compelling words into kinetic sentences that have the reader flipping pages late into the night.


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