Uncommon Courage Under Fire – A review of “The Secret Stealers” by Jane Healey

Intense and Riveting

Anna Cavanaugh never liked being a high school French teacher. Truth be told she never wanted to teach at all but she let herself be convinced it was the best path for her, the same way she ended up married when her heart wasn’t in that either. Now she’s a widow at 25 and her heart yearns to return to Paris where she was truly happy and where she has friends, including Henri who was her first love. When Major General William Donovan, a family friend and a WWI hero, recruits her to work for the OSS (Office of Strategic Services) in D.C. Anna is caught up in her new duties but as she learns more about their missions, she longs to be stationed overseas. Finally she convinces Donovan that her fluency in French and German are needed and she could be effective working undercover with the French Resistance to help ferret out secret intelligence that could potentially turn the tide and end the war sooner.

Getting to Paris is the easy part but once Anna is sent behind enemy lines, she lives in constant danger of discovery by the Germans. But the fear is offset by the adrenaline of passion for the work she is doing and the lives their work is saving. Anna is a quick study, blessed with a photographic memory and a willingness to tackle whatever she is tasked with. She is desperate to help liberate France from German occupation and herself from the darkness of her former life. The journey is long and arduous and Anna experiences the exhilaration and joy of deep love, true friendship and the utter despair over losing those she loved. Anna is consumed with grief but as she works through it her path through the darkness is illuminated. But where will it take her?

In “The Secret Stealers” Jane Healey takes her readers into occupied France so that we feel the fear and dread of the Gestapo’s unspeakable brutality and the horrors of the German war machine. We feel revulsion and fury for the Nazi sympathizers who profit from collaborating with the enemy while their countrymen and children are suffering and dying from malnutrition and starvation. This is another powerful novel of fact-based fiction by Healey that will hold you spellbound from the first page to the last. WWII history buffs should find Healey’s treatment of the French Resistance riveting in its accuracy, capturing the urgency and chilling drama of the uncertainties faced by the resisters. I was hooked from page one and spent most of the time literally on the edge of my seat. If it was possible I would give this a ten star rating. However, the system does not allow for more than five so I’m calling it five bright shiny gold stars!

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