FOR INTRIGUE THAT KEEPS YOU GUESSING
In “The Consummate Traitor,” Bonnie Toews captures the vast sweep of World War Two in Europe, beginning two years before the war and ending a year after. The war is seen largely through the eyes of two memorable women: Lady Grace Radcliff, an immensely gifted pianist born into wealth and privilege, and Lee Talbot, a gutsy Jewish American reporter. Although from opposite ends of the social spectrum – Lady Grace recoils when Lee clinks a Tommy Dorsey tune on a piano – the two women forge a strong bond, becoming `sisters in spirit.’
At her piano concerts in Vienna and Berlin before the war, Grace becomes mesmerized by a handsome SS officer in the audience – Colonel Erich von Lohren – who will figure prominently in her life and, indeed, in the war. Meanwhile, Lee falls in love with Quinn Bergin, head of Churchill’s clandestine operation, who recruits the beauteous Lee to seduce secrets from Nazi officials; but Quinn, an Irishman, is playing a curious game as he funnels his pay back to the IRA, of which he was a leading member.
When the war begins, both Grace and Lee do their bit, eventually landing roles in intelligence work in support of Project Amanita, an operation aimed at keeping the atom bomb out of the hands of Adolf Hitler. Churchill fears that atomic secrets will fall into Nazi hands via Dr. Nielsen, a brilliant physicist conducting atomic research in Nazi-occupied Denmark. When Grace is sent undercover to Copenhagen to countermand a death order on Nielsen, Lee suddenly appears on the scene disguised as Grace – and under arrest by the Gestapo. Lee has sacrificed herself to save Grace: within their operation there is a traitor.
Toews is a canny observer of human nature, shaping all her characters into living flesh-and-blood people with histories and emotional baggage that drive their actions. She is at her best when creating mood and atmosphere: “The Consummate Traitor” is filled with rich descriptions that transport the reader to Guernica under Nazi attack, to Berlin during Kristallnacht, to Churchill’s bunker under Whitehall, to the concert hall. And she is adept at painting an entire picture with just a few well-placed brushstrokes: describing Grace and Erich meeting after a long absence, she writes: “They sat silently, feeling and enjoying the sight of one another. Seven endless years of mutual longing and secret devotion crammed through the sieve of the moment.”
“The Consummate Traitor” is a fast-paced, highly entertaining work that should delight readers of all tastes. I eagerly await the next volume of the Trilogy of Treason series.
A Veteran’s Point of View
When a friend suggested I read “The Consummate Traitor” by Bonnie Toews, I decided to give it a try but with heavy reservations. Maybe it was because I was a soldier, or because I have read hundreds of historical war manuals and just about as many biographies of most of the principals. Normally, I don’t care for the typical half-baked war fictions. With a somewhat air of indifference and half expecting to be bored to death, I began to read and, to my surprise and delight, half-way through the very first chapter I found myself hooked and wanting more.
Ms. Toews has found a unique way to pick out many of WW II’s outstanding little, somewhat obscure and as of yet unexplained war mysteries, which she then skilfully turns into a workable as well as logical piece of art. Literature, yes. Fiction, I suppose. History, maybe. But nevertheless artfully manoeuvred into a tale to remember.
I refuse to give any of the story away but I am honestly a bit dumbfounded as to why I enjoyed it so much. This is not what I would normally read. Maybe it was seeing the whole thing for the first time from a woman’s point of view. Maybe it was just the twists and turns, the crushed loves and often times brutal realities of war but in the end it left me wanting to read Book Two – you know, the same kind of feeling you get after reading “Valley of the Horses” by Jean M. Auel, or “Dune” by Frank Herbert…. the feeling of actually being back in time right in middle of the action with the characters of the book. The chance to travel, explore, experience the danger, the fear and adventures, without ever leaving the comforts of home. To my surprise, I didn’t want the story to end.
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What if Hitler had developed a nuclear bomb before we did?
How different would the world be if this weapon of mass destruction were in the hands of an evil dictator, who believed in wiping out the Jewish nation, and hated the U.S? While Bonnie Toew’s the Consummate Traitor is about WW2, the comparison to current world history is stunning.
So is the author’s gift of writing.
In the Consummate Traitor, Bonnie Toews, took the facts of history, added her gift for fiction, and created a powerful novel of war, intrigue, and sacrifice.
This is a compelling novel and I recommend it highly. My heart raced and tears welled.
Her characters are a blend of the good, the bad, the beautiful, and the brilliant. I knew there was a traitor from page one, but until the author revealed this person, I was much like the characters – looking over their shoulders to see if I could figure it out. I enjoy good spy novels and this one is excellent!
This is a story that will linger long in the minds of readers.
This review is from: The Consummate Traitor (Volume 1) (Paperback)
I love history and Bonnie Toews sweeps the reader immediately into the action of WW2 without missing a beat.
Lee Talbot is a fantastic, strong, female character that I immediately liked. Her intelligence and determination, mixed with her femininity and vulnerability makes her believable and desirable to read.
The Consummate Traitor is full of rich, historical detail and characters within the action that the reader wants to continue turning pages for. With espionage, romance, and the perils of war, The Consummate Traitor is a must read.
Bonnie Toews proves herself a master of the historical spy novel in this fast-paced, meticulously researched masterpiece set during World War II. Thrilling plot twists, which challenge readers’ very understanding of loyalty and trust, are p…layed out against a backdrop of great tragedy, triumph, and the shades of gray that permeate our lives. The characters in this book are not merely people on paper. They are living, true, and are detailed in such light that a reader experiences their pain, joy, suffering as if all their emotions were his or her own. Buy this book. Read it. Keep it forever and immerse yourself in its intrigue and beauty again and again and again.
When war correspondent Lee Talbot sketches in the hills above Guernica, Spain, she believes the area is safe from Hitler’s assault. Then she hears a bomber fly over. Still, she cannot believe Hitler would attack Guernica–until it happens. At that moment, you know you are in the hands of a master. The opening of this book is cinematic—and shocking.
Against a backdrop of war-time Europe, THE CONSUMMATE TRAITOR is a sweeping historical novel that is also a spy thriller. This novel works brilliantly on all cylinders. No one is safe from betrayal, from being used for noble purposes. The two women in this book must show their courage and inner strength as they decipher a web of lies and deceit–often at the hands of the very people they love. Bonnie Toews takes you into a frightening world where nothing is what it seems, except for the courage of these characters, these women. This was the world my 90-year-old mother faced every day as a young woman working for Winston Churchill in England. THE CONSUMMATE TRAITOR It is a testament to the courage and strength of the greatest generation—and a cracking good read!
Bonnie Toews’ THE CONSUMMATE TRAITOR is a gripping spy thriller set in occupied Germany during World War II. The British know that Hitler is working on an atomic bomb, and will use any and all of their espionage assets to prevent that from happening. Two women from very different backgrounds find themselves working together in Nazi occupied territory, but somewhere in their chain of command is a traitor, and they are left fighting for their lives as they struggle to complete their mission with the world hanging in the balance.
This book had a very interesting and unique plot, and there were twists and turns in seemingly every chapter which left me guessing until the end. There is plenty of action, and the characters for the most part are well developed and historically accurate. The author has a particular gift for setting up a scene and drawing the reader into the story; one scene in particular was so vivid that it haunted me for days after I read it. The story does span several years (from the late 1930’s through the end of World War II) in only 325 pages, but the author does a remarkable job at using the gaps in the story line to further character development. Throughout the story, the characters describe to each other what happened to them in the time periods not explicitly covered by the story, and in the end the timeline is quite complete and consistent.
Toews also does a commendable job of weaving scripture references and her Christian faith into the overall story without forcing the issue or preaching; a difficult line to walk but definitely done well in this book.
This story is not for the faint of heart; there is no profanity, but there is violence surrounding the Holocaust and several references to torture. Spy fans will enjoy it, as well as those who enjoy World War II historical fiction.
WWII meets action thriller, meets historical fiction, meets spy mystery in The Consummate Traitor by Bonnie Toews. Hitler, the Americans, and all of Europe raced to develop the first atomic bomb, while WWII raged on. In the midst of that conflict, a talented young pianist of British nobility finds herself involved in the war in a most unusual way. When Lady Grace’s parents die in a London bombing, she joins journalist Lee Talbot as a spy. Using Lady Grace’s piano music to transmit coded messages to British covert missions in Nazi-held territory, both women soon wind up in grave danger. Together, they experience the horrors of war, the dreadful reality of what Hitler did to the Jews, and the nightmare of betrayal.
In the same way “The Help” portrayed history of the civil rights movement through a fictional story, this book portrays the history of WWII through fiction. Although it’s fiction, it’s well researched and inspired by real stories. This fast-paced story draws the reader in and it held my interest well. There were a few unexpected twists and turns and true to reality, everything didn’t wrap up in neat little packages.
This is a gritty story. Toews doesn’t tiptoe around and make war seem pretty. This is a clean book from a moral standpoint in how the author handled certain situations. I wouldn’t label this as a Christian book, as there are no overt faith lessons in it, but there are life lessons to be learned from the characters.
This book actually surprised me because it’s published by the author, not a royalty publisher, and it’s done better than most self-published books. I found some instances of “head hopping” which is where the perspective shifts from one character’s point of view to another’s from one paragraph to the next. This can be confusing for the reader because we’re able to see inside the head of too many characters at one time. I asked the author about this and she was so gracious about my critique. This is her first work of fiction and she’s already working on improving some of these issues in the next book.
The great news is that the story is compelling enough that most readers can get past the point of view problems and really enjoy the book. That says a lot about the story.
There were a few places in the story where something happens abruptly, and from a reader’s perspective, it needed more development. In one case, characters fell in love and progressed to talking about marriage within several paragraphs. The relationship hadn’t really developed at all prior to that. And I won’t give a spoiler, but there is one revelation at the end that seemed abrupt and completely unnecessary for the story.
I say this all because a few changes would easily take this book from good to great. I’d love to see more books by this author done with a royalty publisher with the type of editing such a publisher would offer. I think this author has great potential, and I’m a tough critic. She knows how to write good dialogue and how to take the reader along rather than telling the reader about a scene.
Bonnie Toews approached me about reviewing the book and provided me with a free Kindle copy of the book. I was not obligated to give a favorable review.
I was born a couple of years after my father returned from WWII, and when I was growing up, the war was a continuing thread in the lives of the children of my generation. Novels set during the war really appeal to me, especially stories that grab the reader and never let go, and Bonnie Toews’ taut, powerful debut novel, The Consummate Traitor, is everything I expected. Both a sweeping historical saga and a spy thriller, this gut-wrenching, edge-of-your seat story of loyalty and betrayal, love and loss, tragedy and triumph will keep readers up at night turning pages until the end. Set during one of the most critical periods in history for the civilized world, The Consummate Traitor’s nonstop action, enhanced by Toews’ brilliant descriptions and flesh-and-blood characters, will haunt readers for a long time after they read the last word.