cover image Liberation


Imogen Kealey. Grand Central, $27 (384p) ISBN 978-1-5387-3319-6

This thrilling debut from the pseudonymous writing team of screenwriter Darby Kealey and novelist Imogen Robertson (the Crowther and Westerman series), based on a true story, chronicles the heroic wartime efforts of resistance fighter Nancy Wake to undermine the Nazis in France. As the wife of Henri Fiocca, a respected man in Marseille, Nancy has the money and the cover to rescue Nazi prisoners (“Everyone knows I’m just a rich girl with expensive habits,” she assures her co-conspirators) and to fund resistance efforts. Her successes earn her a nickname, the White Mouse, and an adversary in Major Böhm, a Gestapo agent who longs to uncover the White Mouse’s identity. When a vindictive former employee rats out her husband, Nancy flees to England. Determined to get back to France, Nancy trains with the British to prepare for D-Day and encounters men among them who doubt and disrespect her, though she eventually cultivates a loyal team with whom she targets supply routes to Normandy and buys time for fighters who would otherwise be doomed. Her sole weakness is her devotion to Henri, whom Böhm captures and uses to bait her. What this book lacks in literary panache and subtlety (cue tragic backstory with a mother who made Nancy believe she “was God’s punishment”) it makes up for with a fast pace, vivid set pieces, and a believable, larger-than-life protagonist. Featuring plenty of espionage and a memorable female lead, this is a cinematic treat for fans of wartime adventure novels. (Apr.)