A determined government employee follows her hunch, no matter the cost.
A puzzling date and a smudge that might be an extra letter on a postcard mailed from Nazi-occupied France make intelligence analyst Louise Pearlie wonder if she’s looking at a coded message rather than a harmless greeting. Although she’s a mere office worker for the OSS, the predecessor of the CIA, she’s excited to be temporarily assigned to the field with Lt. Arthur Collins. Together, they travel to St. Leonard, Md., to talk to the postcard’s addressee, grumpy oysterman Leroy Martin, and his South African–born wife, Anne. Although the Martins can explain the card, Louise’s report expresses so much unease that she’s ordered back to the Martins’ on a stakeout with FBI agent Gray Williams. After they watch Martin and another man smuggling a large, corpse-sized bundle from an abandoned tobacco barn near the Martins’ property, they discover a grisly murder that steers the case in another direction. Louise, who can’t drop the notion that the postcard contains a coded message, makes a third visit and a shocking discovery, earning praise for her persistence, if not her sense of self-preservation. Her conflict between duty and romance adds to the convincing combination of suspicion, privation and patriotism during the war years.
A third adventure for Louise (Louise’s Gamble, 2012, etc.) gets her away from her index cards and gives her confidence in her own judgment in Shaber’s well-paced, almost plausible twist on history.