An OSS file draws the attention of a young widow. And a murderer.
Louise Pearlie, whose husband died five years ago after his measles led to pneumonia, moves from North Carolina to Washington, D.C., where she begins work as a clerk in the Research and Analysis branch of the Office of Strategic Services. When she comes upon a document from Gerald Bloch, a hydrography expert on the coastline of French North Africa, requesting asylum for his Jewish wife and child while he joins the Resistance to fight the Nazis, she takes it to her supervisor. Next thing you know, the supervisor is found dead in his ransacked office and the document has gone missing. Louise, who was best friends with Rachel Bloch at college, is desperate to save her from the Reich’s clutches. She resolves to find the file, get it to Gen. Donovan, and have him initiate plans to bring Rachel to the States. But it’s difficult knowing whom to trust. Louise fends off several would-be suitors who may be Vichy supporters. She chats up Clark Gable at a posh mansion. She frets over FBI agents staking out her boarding house. She even breaks into the French embassy for more information on Gerald Bloch. She’s also confused about her fellow boarder Joe Prager. He may or may not actually be a professor of Slavic languages, but he sets off delicious little tingles whenever he’s near.
Less cozy than Shaber’s Simon Shaw series (Shell Game, 2008, etc.), and a virtual primer on how narrow minded 1940s society was, with women expected to get coffee for their bosses, homosexuals to hide their preference and people of color to accept job discrimination.