by SJ Slagle
Norway is a destroyed country at the end of World War II. After a relentless German occupation, Norwegians have lost more than imports and exports, everyday goods and services, communications and social events. Norway lost more than 10,000 men and women in the resistance as well as in slave labor and concentration camps scattered throughout Europe. Norway lost hundreds of teachers and religious leaders who died resisting Vidkun Quisling, the head of the Norwegian Nazi Party. Quisling’s demands for Nazi indoctrination to be taught in schools and churches forced teachers and pastors to quit their posts and work underground. Perhaps worst of all, Norwegian children were deprived of their childhoods, a most precious commodity.
It seems a horrendous assignment for Phyllis Bowden, a young woman in military intelligence assigned to the Office of the Military Attache in the American Embassy in Oslo. Her official tasks include intelligence duties and finding families of lost loved ones. These duties, as tough as they may be, pale when she’s faced with something that occurs outside the office. One night Phyllis finds a runaway child in a café bathroom one night, a little girl labeled a quisling because her Norwegian mother married a German officer. A contentious purge has overtaken the country and quislings are not to be tolerated. But the girl has been tortured and abused by the time Phyllis finds her. She’s faced with the conflict of doing the right thing or doing what the government dictates. Either way could have international complications.
Meanwhile, the love of her life, Joe Schneider, an Mi5 agent, has disappeared in Romania while on assignment and it’s a race to find out what’s happened to him. Between nerve-wracking tasks in her job, trying to decide the fate of the little girl and being heartbroken over Joe’s disappearance, Phyllis is in for the struggle of her young life and intelligence career.
My Review: 5/5 stars.
I’m a huge fan of WWII fiction but hadn’t read anything at all set in Norway. To be honest, this was a real eye-opener and I’m so glad I found this book.
Phyllis Bowden works for the American Embassy in Oslo, helping in a variety of ways to make Norway strong again after the horrors suffered by the German invasion. From finding clothes and food for many starving and homeless citizens to helping people find relatives who’d been sent to labour camps, Phyllis finds herself knee-deep in some very scary situations.
Her organisational skills enable her to quickly get projects off the ground, supporting local people who are still numb from the devastation wreaked upon their country. But it is when she finds a five-year-old girl cowering in fear in the bathroom of a nearby café that she unknowingly puts herself at most risk.
Little does she know that both the British and the Russians are hot on her heels, and even her fiancé (yes, there’s a love story here too) is caught up in the little girl’s life.
These missions run seamlessly alongside each other, both informing and entertaining the reader. I learnt so much from this book, and have been able to chat with Norwegian friends about the events – much to their surprise!
An enjoyable read with engaging characters, real relationships and an entralling plot. I shall definitely look up the first book in the series now, and look forward to more from this author.
I received a copy of this book from Netgalley, and have reviewed it voluntarily.
Add it to Goodreads now and be sure to grab your copy.
Thanks for reading 😉