Publisher: Soho Press (April, 2020)
Reviewed by Shirley Wetzel
Paris: June 1940. As Kate Rees aims her sniper rifle at the entrance to Sacre-Coeur Cathedral, she thinks of how she’d come to be in this place at this time. She’d had an idyllic life with her Naval officer husband and their baby daughter on Orkney Island, until a Luftwaffe attack took them both from her. She felt her life was over as well, until a government spy organization offered her a reason to go on: revenge.
Her mission: to use her superior shooting skills to take out a very high-value target in Paris, then return home. Things go wrong from the start. Her contact fails to meet her at the landing field, leaving her to find her own way to Paris. Now, her carefully aimed bullet misses its mark and sends her running for her life. Her training had been rushed and incomplete: now she’s stuck, no way home, no one to turn to. Still, she’s not ready to give up until she’s made her mark against the Nazis.
She does have a few contacts, which lead to a few more, which lead her to a dying man who entrusts her with information that could change the course of the war. As she dodges the Gestapo and tries to figure out, by trial and error, who can and can’t be trusted, she begins to wonder if her handler even meant for her to complete her mission, or if she was just a diversion from something more important. Now she has another reason to make it home: to make her handler sorry for treating her as dispensable.
Cara Black, author of the popular Aimee Leduc novels, brings her vast knowledge of Paris back to the 1940’s, painting a vivid picture of the dangers of the Nazi occupation, the perfidy of the collaborators, and the bravery and brutality of the resistance factions. The title refers to a historical event: Hitler came to Paris for only three hours in June, 1940. He never returned. Who’s to say he wasn’t running from an assassination attempt on the steps of the Sacre-Coeur Cathedral?
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