Casablanca meets Notorious in a tale of intrigue, romance, espionage, and adventure.
1917. Emma Christensen is a young widow who returns to the Danish West Indies to reclaim the life she left behind. When she discovers her husband has disinherited her in favor of his young heir—an illegitimate son—she turns to the one thing she knows, gambling, and soon finds herself deeply in debt.
She is approached by Cornelius Smith, a representative of an American shipping company, who offers an alternative: infiltrate the suspicious Hamburg-American Line and spy on its nefarious leader, Julius Luckner, to gain valuable business intelligence for his firm.
It doesn’t take long for Emma to realize that both Smith and Luckner are not as they seem. Close to the Allies but even closer to the enemy, Emma bravely engages in missions that could blow her cover at any moment. But with the Panama Canal at risk, how far will she go to help the Allies?
A gripping and suspenseful World War I spy thriller from an accomplished thriller and historical adventure writer.
Perfect for readers of Kate Quinn, Pam Lecky, Ken Follett, and Frederick Forsyth.
The blurb for this book references both Casablanca and Notorious, and those are apt comparisons both in tone and in the cinematic descriptions in this novel. I could easily see it as a PBS mega-production, or even a Merchant-Ivory film (are they even still around???). The story leaps off the page and embeds itself into your imagination, and is never disappointing.
Attention must also be paid to the amazing amount of research author Sophie Schiller obviously did on early twentieth-century shipping company and practices. The level of detail she incorporated gave this story another layer of versimilitude, and I appreciated it immensely.
Bottom line: This is an engaging, well-paced story with a strong female lead.
With a deceptively slow paced set-up, this espionage adventure set before the American entry into what became World War, The Unlikely Spy quickly picks up and becomes an unrelenting thriller. With a dash of romance and constant threat of betrayal, Sophie Schiller has skillfully woven this tale of a genteel Danish widow becoming mixed up with American and German spies blends historical fact with a fictional story that quickly becomes a compulsive read.
The level of detail when it comes to the export and import business, the fueling and feeding of ships, is just wonderful. It feels very authentic and adds to the suspense.
I loved the comparison to Casablanca meets Notorious, as the setting certainly has that feeling.
A remarkable story, one I highly recommend.
In 1917, during WWI, a young Danish widow agrees to undertake a business espionage mission but instead discovers a planned bomb attack on the Panama Canal. This is the story of Emma Christensen's efforts to help prevent this from happening and it's a hair-raising, heart-pounding adventure that puts her life in danger and her heart at risk. There's one person she thought she could trust but this may not be true! Has Emma been deceived by Major Cornelius Smith, the American who's awakened feelings that she thought were lost?
The Unlikely Spy relates an event that is relatively unknown in our U.S. history and author Sophia Schiller has created a fascinating tale that combines fictional characters with real events and actual people. I wasn't aware of Germany's plans to put the Panama Canal out of commission and I didn't know that this was why President Wilson asked Congress to declare War on Germany!
'"Freedom can only be won by unwavering commitment. Otherwise, it's just a fantasy." For once in her life, she was committed to something far greater than herself.'
These words may have been thought and spoken by fictional characters, but they still hold true today! The Unlikely Spy is a thrilling tale of espionage, secret identities, and betrayal, but it's also a reminder that all of us are capable of making a difference. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and I recommend it to all who enjoy historical fiction.
I received a copy of this book from the author via Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours. There was no obligation for a positive review.
The Unlikely Spy took me a bit to really get into. Once I was able to figure out who was who, I was completely engaged. Emma has just returned to St. Thomas after a three-year separation from her husband. He has tragically passed, and she is at a loss of what to do with her life. He left his house and all his money to a young son that he had with their house maid. Leaving Emma reeling and unable to focus on how to move forward. Which leads her to her one addiction, gambling. Of course, she loses all her money and is now in great debt. A gentleman that has caught her eye, says he will help her if she works for him. By finding out what is occurring at the Hamburg-American Line, a shipping company that is owned by Germans and appears to be using their ships to ferry supplies to Germany. In leap of desperation, she decides to go undercover and dig up what she can. Will she be able to keep up the ruse?
The last half of this book I devoured. It is a fast paced, fun mystery that will keep you on your toes. The descriptions on St. Thomas and Panama will leave you wanting to jump the next flight to a tropical location. Thank you to @sophie_schiller_writer and @hfvbt for gifting me this tropical induced mystery.
A great read about a female spy during WWI. Emma's husband has passed and she heads back down to the Danish West Indies where she left her husband and a villa. Emma could not stand living down and now she is forced to go back to take care of his business and is shocked to find he had a child and relations with the housekeeper. Bound and determined to obtain what she believes is rightfully hers, Emma soon finds out that she has nothing and is owed nothing. She took off and abandoned her husband, who left everything to his son. Not sure what she will do to get out of her debts, Emma is sought out by someone who feels she will be the perfect disguise and she is desperate herself. Taking a job that she does not know much about, Emma may have gotten herself deeper in debt than she was, but this debt could be worth her life. Smuggling, spying and becoming the face of an illegal enterprise Emma may have gone too far this time. This was a really good, fast paced historical thriller.