One woman is betrayed; the other, sacrificed. What happens to them triggers a chain reaction of double crosses that alter the outcome of World War II.
On the eve of World War II, American journalist Lee Talbot witnesses Hitler’s experiment in “total war, the bombing of Guernica in northern Spain. It’s a preview of the horrors Nazi Germany will unleash if Hitler’s nuclear labs develop the atomic bomb first. Lee joins Churchill’s secret operation to sabotage Hitler’s experiments but ends up babysitting the King of England’s cousin, Lady Grace Talbot, a gifted pianist who fancies herself in love with an SS officer. When Lady Grace’s parents die in a London bombing, she joins Lee’s team as a ‘pianist,’ transmitting coded messages to British covert missions in Nazi-held territory. Soon, both women learn that, in the secret world of spies, they can trust no one except each other when their missions are compromised behind enemy lines. In a tale rich with historical detail, what happens to these two women exposes a secret England wants buried forever.
Wednesday, March 3rd, 1943
Quinn will lead the tactical team,” Sir Fletcher explained to the four people who sat grouped in front of him. He picked up a pointer from the blackboard ledge and continued.
“There are only two heavy water plants in the world. One is in Canada, at the Consolidated Mining and Smelting Plant in Trail, British Columbia. The other is controlled by the Germans in Norway.”
He rolled down the wall map of Europe and nodded his head at the blond man sitting with them. “Rolf tells us the Nazis plan to transport heavy water from Norsk to Dr. Nielsen’s lab in Copenhagen. We can’t let that happen. That’s why I’ve advanced this mission.”
As Sir Fletcher continued his background briefing, Lee’s mind drifted over to Quinn Bergin. The last time she had seen him was almost three years ago. Yet, instead of welcoming her and Sir Fletcher at the Rainbow Corner the night before, he ignored her, except for a curt nod, and treated the Amanita director as if he were the worst sinner in the building. Quinn’s snub burned her deeply, while Sir Fletcher – she felt sorry for their intrepid leader – his plan for a happy reunion turned into a night of disasters between Grace’s snit and Quinn’s mood.
Despite Quinn’s professional aloofness when they worked together through Germany, Poland and Russia, she had entrusted her soul to him. They had been as one mind and one spirit devoid of physical coupling, and in leaving him behind, she had left a part of herself with him. That part she expected to recover when they were reunited. Instead, his apparent indifference trapped her in limbo and tripped old feelings of abandonment. What had changed?
No, she corrected herself, what had hardened him so? He had become a finely honed guerrilla fighter, a killing instrument. Somewhere, during the depersonalizing process, he had lost the will to connect to his emotional center.
The tapping of Sir Fletcher’s pointer drew her attention back to the map. Directing the pointer tip, he circled the Kjolen range of mountains near Rjukan in Norway.
“Here,” he said. “The Norsk Hydro Electric Plant.”
Sir Fletcher turned to face them. “Rolf Haukelid, as you know, has been inside Norsk since 1938 as its chief engineer. When we’ve needed him to frustrate the Germans’ atomic research, he has performed annoying sabotage tricks.”
“Like what?” Lee asked without thinking.
Rolf lifted an eyebrow to Sir Fletcher for permission to speak.
“By all means,” he relented.
“Well, one of the things I’ve done is drop a cup of cod liver oil into an electrolytic tube. This jams up their whole process and makes the heavy water they ship to their experimental labs useless when the researchers try to restart it.”
“You’re kidding! Cod-liver oil?” Lee laughed. “What it loosens for humans it constipates for science. How ingenious!”
She openly admired the strapping six-footer. Rolf was a Norwegian- American engineer in his mid-thirties. Because of his ethnic background, he could speak Norwegian fluently and was slipped into Norway before the German occupation to build up credentials as an electronics expert and a Nazi sympathizer at Norsk. When the Nazis took over the plant, they unwittingly put in place one of Project Amanita’s most strategic agents.
Lee had met Rolf before, briefly, in Berlin, at one of Goring’s Karinhall banquets. There she had passed a hidden message to him. A spark between them had caught fire, but then it was neither the time nor the place to fan the flame, so they had let it fizzle. His peculiar contradiction of robust gentleness, rather like a Norse mythical god turned cowboy, was what originally drew Lee to him.
Now his refreshing openness in contrast to the closed Quinn stirred her again. Sparse strands of sandy fluff sprouting from his shiny dome were just too cute to resist. She engaged his eyes, which reminded her of an iceberg’s glacial green except for the gold glints twinkling back at her. Her cheeks warmed and her pulse quickened.
Bio : As a journalist, Bonnie Toews has covered significant events such as the Rwandan genocide in 1994. Her eyewitness view contributes to the plight of children in war as a recurring theme through her novels. With hundreds of published articles and five business press awards in her portfolio, Bonnie currently advocates for better care and treatment of Canada’s wounded warriors and is a member of the Canadian Veterans Advocacy, Military Writers Society of America, American Authors Association and American Christian Fiction Writers. THE CONSUMMATE TRAITOR is her first novel in a trilogy about treason.
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