An intelligence agent gets more than she bargained for when she’s promoted during the final days of World War II.
Louise Pearlie is hopeful that her new assignment within the OSS will be more exciting than her previous post as a glorified file clerk. She’s now part of Morale Operations, which creates and disseminates black propaganda—disinformation intended to hasten the fall of the Third Reich. She’s hardly settled into her new office when she’s bundled onto a plane, along with her no-nonsense boss, Alice Osborne, and her Texan colleague Merle Ellison, and flown to nearby Fort Meade, site of a newly opened POW camp. They’re to interview German POWs for possible recruitment as double agents, with Merle, a third-generation German-American, as interpreter. Although they find three likely candidates, none of whom shows any love for the Wehrmacht, one of them has a dismaying tendency to escape the camp, if only to enjoy a few hours of pleasure outside the compound. The second one, it seems, could be easily bribed with a pair of cowboy boots like Merle’s, and the third, a seminary student, was conscripted against his religion and his will. But warning signs that frighten the prisoners and the death of one of the possible recruits put the black-ops plan in jeopardy, especially since there may be a connection with two prisoners who disappeared on the voyage to the States. And after Louise asks her secret lover, a Czech nationalist involved in a covert rescue operation, to help investigate the backgrounds of the missing men, both drafted from the same house in the Sudetenland, she and her colleagues realize they’re up against a powerful opponent.
Louise’s fifth outing (Louise’s Dilemma, 2013, etc.) once again takes the smart and independent heroine into one of the lesser-known arenas of the war. Solid characterizations and a faithful re-creation of wartime life more than make up for the leisurely pace.