Welcome to Writing Pearls Kelley Rose Waller who is our guest reviewing The Swiss Courier and Chasing Mona Lisa by Tricia Goyer and Mike Yorkey.
It is August 1944 and the Gestapo is mercilessly rounding up suspected enemies of the Third Reich. When Joseph Engel, a German physicist working on the atomic bomb, finds that he is actually a Jew, adopted by Christian parents, he must flee for his life to neutral Switzerland. Gabi Mueller is a young Swiss American woman working for the newly formed American Office of Strategic Services (the forerunner to the C.I.A.) close to Nazi Germany. When she is asked to risk her life to safely “courier” Engel out of Germany, the fate of the world rests in her hands. If she can lead him to safety, she can keep the Germans from developing nuclear capabilities. But in a time of traitors and uncertainty, whom can she trust along the way? This fast-paced, suspenseful novel takes readers along treacherous twists and turns during a fascinating and deadly time in history.
It is August 1944 and Paris is on the cusp of liberation. As the soldiers of the Third Reich flee the Allied advance, they ravage the country, stealing countless pieces of art. Reichsmarschall Hermann Göring will stop at nothing to claim the most valuable one of all, the Mona Lisa, as a post-war bargaining chip to get him to South America. Can Swiss OSS agents Gabi Mueller and Eric Hofstadler rescue DaVinci’s masterpiece before it falls into German hands?
In an Oyster Shell – “For six days a week Switzerland works for Nazi Germany, while on the seventh day, it prays for an Allied victory.”
The Pearls – These books presented a perspective of WWII that I haven’t read much about previously. Few American or British characters steal the spotlight, leaving room for the heroes to be Swiss and French.
Gabi Mueller, the daughter of a pastor, helps the Allies’ undercover work in her homeland of Switzerland. Rather than an anachronistic female hero, Gabi doesn’t kick-box or shoot with pin-point accuracy. Instead, the safecracking skills she acquired working in her grandfather’s locksmith shop catch the attention of those in power, putting her in a position of equal parts danger and intrigue, but with the real ability to make a difference in the war’s outcome as Germany nears the creation of their Wonderwaffe or “wonder weapon,” the nuclear bomb.
The best scene, by far, in the books is The Swiss Courier’s finale – a harrowing flight over Nazi Germany. I got sea-sick right along with Gabi in the Junkers plane as it ran low on fuel. Without spoiling the end, do look for the Scarlet Pimpernel while you’re in France!
Chasing Mona Lisa actually takes place during The Swiss Courier, in a period of weeks not covered by the first book. So while it’s a sequel, it’s really not chronological.
If you’ve read or seen Monument’s Men, you know that Hitler wanted to acquire the art of his conquered nations, so France desperately scrambled to keep the Mona Lisa out of his clutches. Unfortunately, I started to understand that with high-ranking German officers sensing the Führer’s imminent demise and France herself divided between the French Community Party and Free France, there were many eager hands were grabbing after Da Vinci’s masterpiece. This tension creates a very fun “follow the lady” game where you just never know who has The Queen of Hearts up their sleeve.
There was also a little more happily-ever-after than I’m used to in historical fiction, particularly in a war era, but sometimes that can be refreshing.
The Sand – While these are very fun, fast-paced books, I found the use of so much foreign-language dialogue (with translation) to be a distraction and slow the action occasionally.
Kelley Rose Waller is the author of the recently released dystopian women’s fiction adventure, The Senator’s Youngest Daughter, available on Amazon. You can read her blog at www.kelleyrosewaller.com.