Espionage detailEspionage by A. L. Sowards takes place in France in 1944. It begins with a one man mission to retrieve a stolen code book, a mission only American Peter Eddy expects he will survive. When he returns to England beaten and wounded, but alive, his real mission begins, but first he has to get past his hurt and sense of betrayal on learning the true intent of the mission that almost got him killed and from which his superiors hadn’t expected him to survive. His loyalty to his country and the Allies remains, but he no longer trusts anyone.

Sent back to France with Jacques Olivier, a disguise master and agent for the resistance, he undertakes the task of uncovering the identity of a supposed resistance fighter who is playing a double game. Peter too has more than one objective; he is also planting false information concerning the expected allied landing in Calais.

Jacques is protective of his sister, Genevieve, to the point of isolating her as much as possible. He is also dealing with hate and rage toward the Germans for murdering his wife, occupying his country, and the threat they pose to Genevieve. He has reached the point where he enjoys killing the enemy soldiers whether it is necessary to take their lives or not. He is highly skilled, inventive, willing to take tremendous risks, and thinks of himself as a lost soul, cut off from God, and forever damned.

Peter, an Idaho farm boy, enlisted in the first branch of the service he could get into after his brother was killed at Pearl Harbor. He and his father had words over his enlistment and he left with the estrangement between them. His mother and three younger sisters write on a regular basis, but he never hears from his father. After being nearly killed in Sicily, he was recruited into the intelligence division. Little by little his experiences have strengthened his faith and he regrets many of his actions including not becoming an elder before his deployment. He is determined to carry out his mission no matter the risks, but Jacques and Genevieve begin to matter a great deal to him and his concern for both their physical and spiritual safety concern him a great deal.

Great risks are taken to carry out Peter’s mission. Sacrifices are made and danger is always one misstep away.

This is a great story from many perspectives. Though it is clearly historical, it is more than that. There are some satisfying, non-preachy lessons on forgiveness, listening to the Spirit, and the universal potential for goodness or evil in all men. There’s a gradual awareness of the distinction between revenge and repentance. There’s heart-stopping danger and action. An exploration of different types of love weaves its way through the horror of war.

Though this story is plot driven and action oriented, satisfactory character development occurs as well. Both Jacques and Peter mature and their characters grow in greater self-awareness, a higher understanding of God, more compassion for others, and confidence in their ability to accomplish the seemingly impossible. Genevieve’s character is not defined as well as that of the two men, but she does play a more prominent role toward the end of the book. She doesn’t grow so much as steps out of her brother’s protective shadow and takes steps toward being the person she has been capable of all along.

First time novelist, Amanda (A.L.) Sowards is a graduate of Moses Lake High School and Brigham Young University. She swam competitively for sixteen years. She and her husband and twin toddlers now live in Utah.

ESPIONAGE, A WORLD WAR II NOVEL, by A.L. Sowards, published by Covenant Communications, soft cover, 240 pages, $15.99, also available on CD and Kindle.