Books: The Real Crime

AN OPERATIONAL NECESSITY by Gwyn Griffin. 477 pages. Putnam. $6.95.

British Novelist Gwyn Griffin here uses a straightforward, fast-paced plot chiefly as a scaffolding from which he can poke and probe into some of the profound moral problems raised by war.

Toward the end of World War II, Eugen Kielbasa, a German U-boat commander, torpedoes an Allied freighter in the South Atlantic. The skipper then orders his young gunnery officer, Emil Kummerol, to destroy all "floating wreckage"—including a dozen helpless survivors. Otherwise, he explains to his shocked crew, Allied planes and subchasers would detect and destroy the U-boat. One of the helpless seamen...

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