#BlogTour Paris in the Dark by Robert Olen Butler

Today it’s my pleasure to take part in the BlogTour Paris in the Dark by Robert Olen Butler. Butler does an excellent job of adding the complexity, trauma and pain of war to this subtle spy story.

About the Author

Robert Olen Butler is one of America’s most highly regarded writers, having published 17 novels, 6 short story collections, and a book on the creative process. Among his numerous awards is the Pulitzer Prize which he won for A Good Scent for a Strange Mountain.

Four of his novels are historical espionage thrillers in the Christopher Marlowe Cobb series, a character far closer to Robert than any other he has written. Like ‘Kit’ Cobb, Robert also went to war, was part of the military intelligence and a reporter and editor at an investigative business newspaper. Robert is also a widely admired and sought after university teacher of creative writing and counts among his former students another Pulitzer Prize winner.

Follow @RobtOlenButler @noexitpress on Twitter, Visit robertolenbutler.com

Buy Paris in the Dark

About the book

AUTUMN 1915. The First World War is raging across Europe. Woodrow Wilson has kept Americans out of the trenches, although that hasn’t stopped young men and women from crossing the Atlantic to volunteer at the front.

Christopher Marlowe ‘Kit’ Cobb, a Chicago reporter and undercover agent for the US government is in Paris when he meets an enigmatic nurse called Louise. Officially in the city for a story about American ambulance drivers, Cobb is grateful for the opportunity to get to know her but soon his intelligence handler, James Polk Trask, extends his mission. Parisians are meeting ‘death by dynamite’ in a new campaign of bombings, and the German-speaking Kit seems just the man to discover who is behind this – possibly a German operative who has infiltrated with the waves of refugees? And so begins a pursuit that will test Kit Cobb, in all his roles, to the very limits of his principles, wits and talents for survival.

Fleetly plotted and engaging with political and cultural issues that resonate deeply today, Paris in the Dark is the finest novel yet in this riveting series.

Review

It’s been a while since I have read a spy story in a war setting. It is almost like revisiting an old friend or neighbourhood. Even the title speaks to the unwritten stories we keep hidden in our lives. The moments we spend alone watching others in silence. The unaccounted forgotten minutes and seconds in time when we are either at one with ourselves or find it difficult to resign ourselves to the reality of who we are.

Butler makes it seem easy, this writing malarkey, a seemingly effortless venture into the world of a man who has many faces and personalities. Kit Cobb is aware of his duplicity on a conscious level, because it is a both a career and choice of conscience, but on a more subconscious level he is unaware of how fragile a tightrope he may be walking.

On the surface he is an American journalist reporting on the hidden stories in war-torn countries. His other role, and certainly the more vital one in this environment, is as a spy. A man who can meld into a crowd of Germans with ease and in the next moment manipulate a variety of different government operatives.

He is looking for a needle in a haystack – a bomber in the middle of Paris. A person who wants to cause destruction, death and confusion among the Allies and the Parisians. His contacts lead him straight to a den of Huns, who at a first glance have every reason to fight their own battle in the Great War from the inside out. Hidden in plain sight, and usually above every suspicion. It doesn’t take Cobb long to find out that there is definitely a needle, however it may be the wrong kind of needle in this particular haystack.

Butler does an excellent job of adding the complexity, trauma and pain of war to this subtle spy story. In fact it is so secondary the reader just takes it on board automatically. It’s a well-written smooth story that draws you in without you realising. It captures your attention and reels you in slowly, which is part of Butler’s skill.

Buy Paris in the Dark at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: No Exit Press, Pub. date: 25 October 2018

#BlogTour The Silent Woman by Terry Lynn Thomas

Today is my turn on the BlogTour for The Silent Woman y Terry Lynn Thomas. It is more than just a story about an innocent woman, who accidentally becomes caught up in the pre second World War games of deception, it is about all women and the daily fights they have to endure to survive.

About the Author

Terry Lynn Thomas grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area, which explains her love of foggy beaches, windy dunes, and Gothic mysteries. When her husband promised to buy Terry a horse and the time to write if she moved to Mississippi with him, she jumped at the chance. Although she had written several novels and screenplays prior to 2006, after she relocated to the South she set out to write in earnest and has never looked back.

Now Terry Lynn writes the Sarah Bennett Mysteries, set on the California coast during the 1940s, which feature a misunderstood medium in love with a spy. Neptune’s Daughter is a recipient of the IndieBRAG Medallion.

She also writes the Cat Carlisle Mysteries, set in Britain during World War II. The first book in this series, The Silent Woman, was released in April 2018. When she’s not writing, you can find Terry Lynn riding her horse, walking in the woods with her dogs, or visiting old cemeteries in search of story ideas.

Follow @TLThomasBooks @HQDigitalUK

Or follow Terry Lynn Thomas on Facebook

Visit terrylynnthomas.com

Buy The Silent Woman

About the book

Would you sell your secrets?

Catherine Carlisle is trapped in a loveless marriage and the threat of World War Two is looming. She sees no way out… that is until a trusted friend asks her to switch her husband’s papers in a desperate bid to confuse the Germans.

Soon Catherine finds herself caught up in a deadly mixture of espionage and murder. Someone is selling secrets to the other side, and the evidence seems to point right at her.

Can she clear her name before it’s too late?

Review

You could say that Catherine is naive and perhaps not completely aware of the implications of her actions. She is most definitely being used by the secret government groups, who decide the outcomes and often the narrative of history. Her simple tasks as a secret courier aren’t doing any harm, it’s just a bit of fun and a way to make money.

Not that she should technically have to make money, because her husband is a rich and powerful man, but he keeps her on a tight financial leash. There you have it, the status quo of the majority of women both then and now, controlled by the sexism in society. Then the fact Catherine is deemed useless by her husband because she can’t fulfil her ‘role’ as a woman.

The story was also about the empowerment of women. I’m not sure it was intentional, but kudos to the author if it was. The message could get lost within the crime element of The Silent Woman. The moments when the women protect each other, save each other and make a stand against the sexual harassment, and sexists in general.

The Silent Woman is a combination of spy thriller, crime, women’s empowerment and emancipation. It is also about the greatest opposition women encounter, aside from men and gender inequality. When women try to undermine other women, keep them submissive and fail to protect them, it is far worse than being oppressed by the opposite gender. In a way Thomas shows us how the silent woman starts to find her own voice, and stand up for herself and others.

If you are looking for a spy infused crime set in the late 1930s, you might get more than you bargained for. You don’t just get a body and a murder mystery, you get a miniature protest and a discovery of self. Thomas delivers more than just a Foyle’s War scenario, or in this case Catherine’s War. The author delivers a dose of reality with a touch of rebellion.

Buy The Silent Woman at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Exposure by Helen Dunmore

ExposureBased in 1960, this Cold War story is a mixture of politics, bureaucracy, spy story and about relationships. In fact I felt as if the emphasis was on family and love, regardless of whether it was hetero or homosexual.

I particularly liked the way Dunmore wrote the confrontational scenes between Lily and the person sent to interview her.

The misconception of people thinking that if you were born in a country it automatically means you can speak the language fluently, despite leaving the country as a young child.

Also the cold reality of naturalisation often only being a pretty bureaucratic word. Once a foreigner always a foreigner is a common reaction and the subconscious thought most people try to suppress

I actually think Lily made a subconscious decision to ‘forget’ her first language. Too many uncomfortable images. memories and anger. As if forgetting her origins would help in the remodelling of her self. She is still very paranoid about being treated differently because of her religion. Lilly looks for the anti-Semite in everyone. Completely normal for survivors and I would say almost a persecution complex, but then perhaps Lily isn’t so paranoid after all.

When Simon is accused of treason and spying Lily finds she has already landed right in the middle of this mess, even before any accusations had started flying. She acts instinctively in an effort to protect her family.

Throughout the turmoil and embarrassment of the accusations Dunmore has woven the two loves of Simon into the fabric of the story. His past and his present, his hidden desires and his open conformity. In their own way the two loves save Simon.

I liked the combination of emotion versus political chess playing, of betrayal versus protection and the backdrop of the minefield of a post-war world.

Buy Exposure at Amazon UK or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.