By Leslie McManus
Published by Mews Books 1976
The Breton Butcher, the first in the Churchill’s Vixens series is a grubby little book – but one that I strangely enjoyed. Let’s be honest, the book is everything it suggests on the cover – sexy girls doing seductive spy stuff and killing Nazi soldiers, and solely on that level the book succeeds admirably. But isn’t art. It isn’t even that well written, but it is wafer thin and fast paced. A night or two’s entertainment at best.
From the back cover:
THE ALLIES GREATEST AGENTS AT ESPIONAGE, DESTRUCTION AND SEX
They were British Intelligence’s most secret and deadly weapon. Young, beautiful and destructive agents as much at home on a midnight mission as in the beds of friend or foe.
Especially trained in languages, the techniques of counter-espionage and the psychology of the enemy, the girls of this group could go anywhere behind the German’s lines – and do anything.
They were Churchill’s Vixens – a secret group of wartime heroes whose stories are now told for the first time. Stories that might just be true.
The story, which is set in Brittany is about Yvonne Stacey a virginal Frenchwoman living the simple life in the town of Dimand. Well, at least as simple as it can be when your town is over-run with German soldiers. Despite her hatred of the Nazis, Yvonne keeps out of harms way because she loves one of the men in the village, Henri Bellanger. Yvonne and Henri are engaged to be married and she has been saving herself for him.
One pleasant morning, Yvonne pays an unexpected call on Henri, only to find that his home is over-run with Nazi soldiers. Initially she thinks the worst. But she is wrong. Henri is in no danger. He is a Nazi sympathiser. In his home he laughs and jokes with his German comrades.
Yvonne doesn’t take the news that her fiance is a traitor well. She bribes a filthy fisherman to ferry her to London. As she has no money, she uses the only thing she has on any value to barter her way across – her virginity.
Yvonne is now a changed woman. In England she is quickly enlisted to become one of Churchill’s Vixens — a special undercover squad of women who are as much at home on the battlefield as the boudoir. She is put through a rigorous training regimen, where she excels as a markswomen and then awaits her assignment.
Naturally, she is sent on a mission in France, in fact in Breton, the province that she grew up in. Her partner in crime, is an American operative named Cy Getz. Getz appears to be pretty good at his job, but has a one track mind — which focuses on getting Yvonne into the sack.
As the story progresses, Yvonne and Getz join with the resistance and carry out some daring raids. These raids bring them into conflict with some high ranking Nazi brass, and, of course, Henri Bellanger, with who Yvonne has a score to settle.
The Breton Butcher walks a fine line between being a pulp spy adventure or a piece of low-class smut — I would suggest the smut wins, because the action passages aren’t that well written. Even though I enjoyed this book (and that’s a sad reflection on my character), I couldn’t really recommend it to anyone.