During the Great War in 1916, Abigail Maduro is devastated when her parents are killed in a freak accident along the Panama Canal. Orphaned and alone, she is sent to St. Thomas, an island in the Danish West Indies, to live with a bad-tempered aunt and her household of eccentric servants. Despite the island's veneer of tranquility, St. Thomas is a hotbed of German spies and saboteurs who are using their Hamburg-America Line steamers to aid the Kaiser’s War effort. When a mysterious stranger suddenly appears in town, Abigail is drawn into the conflict. In the handsome and scholarly Erich Seibold, Abigail finds the friendship she has been craving, even after she learns that Erich is really a deserter from a German U-boat. Their idyllic interlude comes to a crashing halt when the island's German consul also discovers Erich's identity and blackmails him into committing sabotage and murder. After an altercation involving the Danish governor designed to halt the upcoming transfer of the islands to the United States, Erich is thrown into prison and Abigail must choose between her safety and Erich’s life. Action and adventure abound in this colorful historical novel that brings to life a fading West Indian sugar colony in the last days of Danish rule.
Sophie Schiller, author
The 1917 transfer of the Danish West Indies to the United States, which forestalled imperial Germany’s hopes to control strategically valuable ports during WWI, provides the background for Schiller’s engaging historical thriller. In 2001, journalist Søren Jensen, still grieving over the loss of his wife, travels from Copenhagen to the Virgin Islands to investigate a report that documents exist supporting the claim of Abigail Maduro to have “personally thwarted a German invasion” of the islands. Abigail recently died at the age of 101, and Søren meets her granddaughter, Claire Lehman, a possible new love interest (Claire’s eyes have “an inner fire, a boldness that resonated deep within him”). Claire gives Søren access to her ancestor’s diary, which details the teenage Abigail’s growth into self-sufficiency and her role in countering German espionage before the sale of the islands. Schiller deftly blends fact and fiction in a page-turner with emotional resonance. (BookLife)