Friday, April 13, 2018


 In this literate and action-packed historical thriller, set during World War II, a plucky code-breaker fights to keep a deadly secret as her Bonnie-and-Clyde past threatens to catch up with her.

Thirty-year-old Lena Stillman is living a perfectly respectable life when a shocking newspaper headline calls up her past: it concerns her former lover, charismatic bank robber Bill Bagley. A romantic and charming figure, Lena had tried to forget him by resuming her linguistic studies, which led to her recruitment as a Navy code-breaker intercepting Japanese messages during World War II.
But can Lena keep her own secrets? Threatening notes and the appearance of an old diary that recalls her gangster days are poised to upset her new life.
Whom can she really trust? Is there a spy among the code-breakers? And who is it that wants her dead? (synopsis from Amazon)

3 Stars
Lena Stillman has a knack for languages and breaking codes. These gifts have led to her being the top ranked woman in Canada's Examination Unit during WWII.

However, Lena's hiding from her past. Lena was a member of The Clockwork Gang, notorious bank robbers.
In the beginning it's difficult to make out who's "talking", and it's not due to the shifts between the past and present. However, once Lena's introduced into the gang it becomes easier.
I don't think I've ever read anything set during WWII from a Canadian point of view. It was certainly different.
To my thinking, this is one of the last time periods when an ordinary person could effectively disappear, re-create themselves elsewhere, and pull it off. That ability plays into several of the unanswered questions I had at the end of SPEAKEASY.
Lena is strong and independent now. The war offered many women unique opportunities and Lena steps up to grab them with both hands. Given her past and present situation I felt there were things she should have sussed out sooner, but that was a minor distraction as we all have our weaknesses. This may be something she'll overcome in future books.

SPEAKEASY reads and ends in a way that suggests at least one more book. Right now I'm of two minds about that, but curiosity will likely lure me to follow where Lena leads.

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