A British girl with a brilliant mind is recruited into a shadow organization to extract an unnamed spy—and hopefully learn about her missing father.
Samantha Donaldson, an exceptionally bright 17-year-old living in World War I–era England, has unparalleled skills with languages and ciphers. She was taught by her ambassador father, whose recent disappearance she finds suspicious. Sam is recruited into La Dame Blanche, an organization of spies, mostly women, and told she will be planted in the kaiser's palace to extract Velvet, a spy whose true identity is unknown but is believed to be in danger. Now known as Sophia Thérèse, Sam must learn to navigate the mores and nuances of royal life in the palace. While trying to locate Velvet, she learns of an additional and even more sinister threat: a deadly chemical weapon. Soon, Sam's understanding of war ceases to be black and white as she learns how far some would go—and how easily they would kill—to further their own agendas. Brown's richly envisioned historical thriller moves at a languid pace, with careful attention to period details. Faced with red herrings and double agents, Sam must use her knowledge and savvy to maneuver through a world rife with ambiguities where lives lurch in a precarious balance.
A slow-burning tale of espionage and deceit that explores the complexities and moral uncertainties of war. (Historical fiction. 13-17)