cover image A Traitor Among Us

A Traitor Among Us

Elizabeth Van Steenwyk. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, $15 (143pp) ISBN 978-0-8028-5150-5

If readers can overlook one or two leaps in narrative logic and some patches of formulaic prose, they could easily become engrossed in this suspense story set in 1944 Holland. At 13, Pieter has seen the Germans arrest his father and even confiscate his dog. While his two older brothers are off fighting with the resistance, Pieter delivers underground newspapers in the village. As the Allies begin to land, the resistance steps up their efforts, and Pieter's errands grow increasingly dangerous, especially after a wounded Allied paratrooper is brought to Pieter's house. To make things worse, everyone knows there's a traitor in the village (the blanket assumption that there is only a single traitor is one of the book's flaws). Whom can Pieter trust? His teacher makes suspicious references to the years he spent studying the ""beautiful"" German language in Munich; Pieter's slow-witted, tag-along cousin seems to know too much; the village doctor's weakness for brandy may have loosened his lips. Van Steenwyk (Three Dog Winter) camouflages the weak spots in her plotting with sharp period detail and with almost cinematic tension. And the climax--a furtive, after-curfew bicycle ride in which Pieter flushes out the traitor--is heart-pounding. Ages 9-14. (June)