In this spy novel, when a teenager travels to a bustling port city, he has no idea that he’s about to contribute to one of the most important events of the 20th century.
It is June 1944, and Tommy Collins, the young son of a British naval officer, is headed home to Winchester from school. World War II is in full swing, and England is reeling from air raids, bombs, and food rations. Rumors are spreading that the Allies are about to invade Europe, and hours after Tommy arrives, his father is summoned to Southampton to assist with the war effort. Thanks to a lack of child care, Tommy tags along, making himself useful by running messages and helping out. Despite being warned of the dangers of wandering through town, Tommy cannot help himself. The port is full of boats, more than anyone has seen at one time, and the air is full of anticipation. During a walk, Tommy meets Annike Meier, a Dutch Jewish teenager who came to England on the Kindertransport. Annike is assembling a radio to contact her parents, and once it works, she makes a terrifying discovery: There are German spies in Southampton, communicating top-secret intelligence about the invasion. What follows is a rapid-fire story of two plucky teens whose dedication to the war effort finds them risking their lives to discover and stop the spies. Moss creates a gripping and lean story full of action and excitement. The characters are well formed; readers will feel Annike’s sadness and understand Tommy’s moral code.
Even though the beginning of the tale features a great deal of exposition regarding the ravages of the war on England and the sacrifices many people have made, rarely do those moments feel didactic. Rather, the author deftly sets the scene of England in the throes of a war that feels endless. Once Annike discovers the German messages, the story unfolds at a brisk pace, barely taking a minute to breathe and leaving readers itching to reach the end.
A riveting caper set against the backdrop of Europe’s darkest hours.