Mystery, Murder & Mayhem @ your library! Wake County Libraries is hosting several mystery authors at our libraries this September. Please join us for An Evening with Sarah Shaber at the Cameron Village Regional Library on Thursday, September 6 at 7 p.m. and we are pleased to re-run this book review from Janet L. that was originally posted last year.
Award winning local mystery author Sarah Shaber is back with the first book in a captivating new series. Our main character, Louise Pearlie, is a clerk at the Office of Strategic Services, or OSS, in 1942 Washington D.C. Run by the legendary “Wild Bill” Donovan, the OSS was America’s first intelligence agency and a precursor to the CIA.
One day, while filing top secret information, Louise comes across a document referring to Gerald Bloch, an expert on the coastline of French North Africa. In it, Bloch asks for asylum for his family in return for assistance to the Allies. Louise is stunned to realize this is the same Gerald Bloch married to her school friend Rachel. Realizing that being Jewish puts Rachel at great risk as long as she remains in Europe, Louise is determined to do what she can to help get Rachel and her family to the United States.
So even though it’s a tad unusual for a clerk to take this sort of initiative she approaches her boss, Bob Holman, and tells him she thinks Gerald Bloch’s offer should be considered seriously. Her boss agrees to review the file and Louise allows herself to hope that she may have succeeded in helping her friend. But then Bob Holman is found murdered in his office, the file Louise left has disappeared, and because this all happened at the OSS no one is talking. Louise is left with the sinking feeling that Rachel’s fate hinges on whether she can figure out what happened to her boss and that file.
What follows is a top notch mystery with a tight plot, interesting characters and a fascinating location. Shaber does a marvelous job of bringing wartime D.C. to life. Through Louise’s eyes you experience the scarcity of everything from food to living space, the changing role of women during wartime, and being part of the budding American intelligence community. Louise is a winning heroine, a combination of small town North Carolina girl and feisty woman determined to help her friend, no matter the risk. Add to this several wickedly funny scenes involving a French diplomat and you have a great read. Highly recommended.
Editor’s note: The Sequel, Louise’s Gamble, was released earlier this year.