The Frontline Fugitives, Volume One and Two, by Nick Jacobellis
The Frontline Fugitives series is a unique “plot driven historical fiction” set of books that tells a compelling story of the search for two 18-year-old fugitives from justice that join the US Army to avoid capture. The fugitive pair are New Jersey based gang members, black market operatives, that rob a bank in New York and kill a cop. The cop is from a well-connected family of cops and is also a World War II Veteran. The story involves the NYPD, US Army Criminal Investigation Division (CID), US Army, the FBI and other agencies in a world-wide manhunt.
The chase is on. The fictional CID Task Force deep dive into a thorough local investigation of the fugitives and their association with local crime lords and black marketeers that lead them to believe that the fugitives have decided to go incognito by hiding in plain site as a normal GI joining the service in WWII. The Induction and training in the US Army provides a unique background to enable the fugitives to avoid capture while serving their country in the time of war. This part of the story lends itself to the reader growing sympathy towards their plight although they are already labeled cold blooded cop killers. The story develops the personalities well enough that the average reader starts to grow sympathetic towards the fugitives.
Volume One focuses on the stateside manhunt for the two fugitives and the thorough law enforcement process and procedures the team goes through to track each and every individual that was connected to the crime or connected to the two fugitives and their black-market operations. Further into the series the story chronicles the fugitives trial and tribulations after they are inducted into the US Army. The timeline of the plot development draws you into the story while the two fugitives are training to become a glider pilot and when the other doesn’t quite meet the standard to be a pilot, he becomes a very good glider mechanic. The storyline continues to follow the fugitives through deployment to Europe and the endless twists and turns of service overseas while the fugitives trying to remain inconspicuous and not blow their cover.
Volume Two deep starts off with the stateside activities but quickly moves overseas. One of the main Law Enforcement characters volunteers for a special US Army assignment to CID to better enable the team to track and investigate the two fugitives. When the crimefighters finally get a few solid leads that turn into actionable tasks that pinpoint the fugitives location in the ETO (European Theater of Operations), the crime fighters deploy to Europe and track them down at a very crucial time when the US Army, specifically the 101st Airborne Division is defending Bastogne after the Battle of the Bulge.
I won’t be a spoiler for the action, but I will say that this is the most compelling part of the series. The story line will make some of the readers want to side with and sympathize with the fugitives but as the story develops the reader is also aware of the mind and methodology of the lead fugitive who is always one step ahead of his trackers.
One of the unique aspects of the Series is the story telling of segregation and social impact during this timeframe. One of the main characters is an African American, WWI veteran turned cop detective that has worked his way through the police ranks to earn the respect of his fellow officers and veterans. During WWI this same character was instrumental in saving the life of an Irish soldier who later became a high-ranking NYPC Captain. The cop that is killed during the robbery was the Captain’s son and was working side by side with the African American cop. The storyline does a great job of revealing how poorly the African American community was treated in society at that time. It also reveals how the Armed Forces and Law Enforcement was instrumental in helping breakdown those social barriers.
In one of the more memorable moments of the story a group of African American Soldiers are refused service at a restaurant while a German POW Labor detail is allowed to sit down and enjoy their meals without any confrontation or trouble. The story resonates with hypocrisy and drives home the impact of segregation on civilians, soldiers, and cops of color.
For readers with an appetite for adventure that involves cops, feds, black market, murder, and triumph of good over evil, they will find this series a good read that will keep them attracted to the story from page one through the end of the series. Nick Jacobellis is an experienced law enforcement agent that knows his trade and the tools of his trade very well. He provides a level of detail throughout the series that is compelling and convincing.