Sarah R. Shaber launched a new historical mystery series with a fascinating view of
during World War II. Although Louise’s War is one woman’s story, Shaber’s details bring the war years to life. Washington, D.C.
Louise Pearlie is a twenty-nine-year-old war widow who left
to work for the Office of Strategic Service (OSS) as a clerk with top secret clearance. No one in the house where she boards knows she is anything other than a clerk. It’s a top secret file that turns her world upside down. One folder has information about Gerald Bloch offering information to the Allies so that he can get his family to safety, out of South Carolina Vichy . And, Louise knew Bloch’s wife, Rachel. Rachel was Louise’s college roommate, and Louise felt she owed a debt to Rachel. The women were so close, they had promised to name their daughters after each other. France
So, Louise passed on the file, hoping to help her Jewish friend get to safety. She felt she had done her best, until the man who was helping her was found dead in his office. Now, Louise was determined to do anything she could to rescue her friend and her family.
Shaber inserts three chapters relating Rachel’s experiences, but the focus in the mystery is on Louise, the narrator, as she tries to rescue her friend. However, the details of life in
in 1942 were the most interesting parts of the book. The summer of 1942 was stifling in D.C. (What summer isn’t?) But, most people didn’t have air conditioning, or as Louise phrased it, “The apartment was refrigerated.” There’s the comment after the man’s death. The “Funeral was tomorrow only two days after he died. That was fast. Of course, it was extremely hot this summer and ice was in short supply.” There’s information about the shortages of sugar and gasoline, silk stockings. And, Louise attends a party at Evalyn McLean’s. Mrs. McLean owned and wore the Hope diamond that night. It was a party attended by Alice Roosevelt Longfellow, Clark Gable, and General Bill Donovan, head of the Washington, D.C. . OSS
Louise Pearlie is an appealing heroine, an intelligent woman trying to determine her role in a changing world. But, Shaber’s strength, and the appeal of Louise’s War, lies in the description and details of the war years and life at the time. I can’t wait to see where she takes Louise in the next years.
Sarah R. Shaber’s website is www.sarahrshaber.com
Louise’s War by Sarah R. Shaber.
Severn House. ©2011. ISBN 9780727880406 (hardcover), 194p.