Commander Todd Ingram, commanding officer of the destroyer, USS Maxwell (DD-525) met Soviet Navy officer Eduard Dezhnev in 1942 when the starshiy leytenant (senior lieutenant) was Naval Attaché to the Soviet Consulate in San Francisco. They became close friends, or so Ingram thought, until he discovered Dezhnev was a spy and had directly contributed to his capture by the Japanese in the Philippines while attempting to rescue his wife to-be, Helen. Later that year, Ingram escaped the Philippines with Helen, and returned to San Francisco, and had Dezhnev expelled from the United States, persona non grata.
Ingram had put all that out of his mind, when on the last day of the war, the Maxwell suffers a hit from a Kamikaze attack off Okinawa. She puts into Karama Rhetto, a small archipelago off Okinawa, for repairs. News of the war’s end comes the next day and Ingram expects to go home with the others on operation Magic Carpet. Instead, an Army buddy from his days on Corregidor comes after him. He is Brigadier General Otis Dewitt, now intelligence aid on General Douglas MacArthur’s staff. In concert with the State Department, DeWitt has temporary orders drawn for Ingram to accompany him to Manila on the same plane as sixteen Japanese senior military and civilian diplomats. Over a swift two days, they negotiate with General MacArthur’s staff, the terms for the instrument of surrender, soon to be signed in Tokyo Bay. DeWitt Promises Ingram that he will attend that ceremony.
But DeWitt and the State Department have an ulterior motive. After Manila, they send Ingram on to Sakhalin Island to learn what can be done to defuse a Soviet attack on Hokkaido. Why me, asks Ingram? He groans when DeWitt tells him Edward Dezhnev is now a Captain Third Rank in the Soviet Navy. Moreover, Dezhnev is a brigade commander on Sakhalin and is responsible for laying siege to a Japanese holdout in Toro, a natural jumping off place for an attack on Hokkaido.
Ingram and Dezhnev were once friends. Maybe it can happen again, Dewitt explains. At the very least, Ingram might be able to gather intelligence on the Soviet’s plans to attack Hokkaido. There is something else, DeWitt explains. Walter Boring, a Red Cross representative on the run from Harbin, China, has two crates of overwhelming photographic evidence of Japan’s experiments on live human beings; experiments far worse than anything in Nazi Germany. Ingram is expected to return with those crates. But how can he when Boring is being protected by the Japanese garrison in Toro where Dezhnev and his brigade stand ready to overpower them at any moment? Thus Ingram’s “friendship” with Dezhnev may be a key factor in securing Boring’s release along with his crates.
As his shipmates relax and prepare for their return to loved ones, Ingram must go the other way. Three weeks ago he was fighting the Japanese and the Soviets were supposed to be his friends. Now, he doesn’t know who to trust.