The Traitor Beside Her
Mary Anna Evans
WW II Spy Mystery Book 2
Poisoned Pen Press
June 6th, 2023
The Traitor Beside Her by Mary Anna Evans blends mystery, action, friendship, with a hint of romance. Readers get a glimpse of how women helped in the war effort, and she treats readers to fun historical facts, suspense, intrigue, espionage, and secrets.
“This is the second in the series. The previous book was The Physicists’ Daughter. With this current book I wanted to take the main character, Justine, right out of her comfort zone. She is working undercover for an American intelligence Agency, embedded in a group of code breakers looking for a traitor who is sending secrets. I like writing books that have women in the sciences.”
World War II was not only fought on the battlefront but also on the intelligence front. Arlington Hall, a former women’s college in Virginia, has been taken over by the United States Army where hundreds of men and women work to decode countless pieces of communication coming from the Axis powers. At the facility, they collect scrambled German communications and decode them. After three women have gone missing, it becomes apparent that a traitor is passing on top secret information. To find the culprit, Justine and her friend Georgette are sent there, because they have the skills to find the traitor and can pass as one of the code breakers. Georgette knows the Native American language Choctaw, while Justine is fluent in German and is a math/physics whiz. Their mission is to find how code breakers tick, knowing that if the traitor is not discovered thousands of soldiers’ lives are at stake.
“Justine has a quiet exuberance, confident, competent, smart, observant, and is untrusting, with a temper. She speaks German and has a knowledge of code breaking with her math background. At times she can be naïve but is always logical and analytical. Her biggest weakness is she is not people smart unlike Georgette, her best friend. Georgette works well with Justine, and each learn from one another. She is observant, can be excitable, and has perseverance. Her grandmother was a Choctaw Indian and taught Georgette to speak Choctaw. This comes in handy because it was used as a code during WWII.”
Their male counterparts, Paul, Ed, and Jerry are not just co-workers but also have strong feelings for Justine and Georgette. They help them in their endeavors but also vow to keep the women safe. It appears their feelings are beyond peers but have entered the romance realm.
Readers learn a lot of historical facts in the book. “I had Arlington Hall in Virginia as real. An interesting book is Code Girls. An author interviewed the women at Arlington Hall who were the code breakers. The dormitory was real. I found photos and articles of the dormitory floorplan on the Internet. The setting is very realistic. The restaurant, The Mayfair, that Justine goes on a date is real. I found photos of the dining room, the menu, and the drink menu, and that they had dancing.
The mission of the code breakers was also real. We knew Germans did break some of our codes, but they did not know we knew it, so we used it to give fake information.
Many of these women kept the secret of their job for many years, even from their husbands, after WWII ended. Also real were all the gadgets in the book: the purses with false bottoms for hidden compartments, a tiny camera built into a handheld matchbox, pens and pencils disguised to hide a functioning blade, a gun with a singular .22 bullet disguised as a pen, noise makers, and a chamber with pepper spray.”
This story will keep readers on the edge of their seats, especially as the heroines are put into very dangerous situations. The cat and mouse game played has people wondering who the traitor is and how will they be found out.