Librarian Spy
by Martin, Madeline

"Posing as a librarian in Lisbon while working undercover as a spy gathering intelligence during WWII, Ava, as the battle in Europe rages, connects with a woman who runs a printing press in occupied France through coded messages that bring hope in the face of war"-

This unusual WWII spy tale is based on the real-life work of the Interdepartmental Committee for the Acquisition of Foreign Publications (IDC), an OSS-affiliated group organized by Fred Kilgour, later the founding director of OCLC. Multilingual Ava Harper is a librarian at the Library of Congress when she is recruited by IDC. Her assignment takes her to neutral but spy-drenched Lisbon, where she collects and microfilms print materials from enemy and enemy-occupied countries. Analysts then scour the documents for intel about Nazi strategy. Ava falls into a romance with a British consulate officer, and both attract the attention of German agents. The narrative jumps between Ava's story and that of Parisian resistance worker Hélène Bélanger, who operates a clandestine printing press and attempts to secure the exfiltration of a Jewish woman and her son, using coded messages deciphered by Ava. Both plots generate suspense but are weighed down somewhat by an excess of melodrama and by occasionally trite phrasing (jaunts down memory lane). Still, the wartime ambience in both Lisbon and Paris and the thoroughly fascinating story of the IDC will please all lovers of WWII espionage. Copyright 2022 Booklist Reviews.

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