Winston Churchill’s Renegade Spy

Aug 12, 2020 | 2020 Articles, Mysteryrat's Maze

by Steve Haberman

Details at the end of this post on how to enter to win an ebook copy of Winston Churchill’s Renegade Spy and a link to purchase it. If the winner could post a review on Amazon/Goodreads, etc. afterwards Steve would greatly appreciate it.

World War II ended seventy-five years ago, yet it still grips the American public. For way too long, decades in fact, fiction and non-fiction authors wrote mostly about men’s heroism during that period. Increasingly, however, women also have been celebrated for their cool-headed daring, cunning, and patriotism. I realized this recognition when researching my spy thriller, Winston Churchill’s Renegade Spy, a story that occurs during Britain’s darkest days in 1940. At that point, the United States still was isolationist. France was defeated. Only the Brits and their colonies stood alone with the Nazis separated from the United Kingdom just by the choppy waters of the English Channel.

During the early part of that world conflict, the Germans assumed women remained at home, certainly not in the front lines. A few perceptive allied men in and out of uniform saw this weakness in their enemy and took advantage of it. They enlisted women. Women knew how to disarm the enemy with their feminine charm. They were also as motivated as men to defeat the Nazis. They made perfect candidates for spies. They acted as couriers, carrying secret messages from network to network. They helped sabotage arms depots and communication lines. They met other agents when they parachuted into France and other occupied countries in the dead of night. They shared the daily filth, the constant terror of capture, the losses of friends, and fighting alongside men. A good number died after being horribly tortured. All contributed to the allied victory. Listing them all would be way too long, but I’ll mention a few I came across in my research.

The indomitable Virginia Hall. As a civilian, this Baltimore socialite lost a leg during a hunting accident, yet refused to let that stop her joining the war effort as a spy for the British. The Germans labelled her “the most dangerous of all Allied spies” and pursued her ruthlessly. She escaped over the Pyrenees, despite her handicap, only to return later to France to continue the fight with the Americans.

Suzanne Spaak, from a Belgium aristocratic family, joined the Resistance and helped save hundreds of Jewish children. At the age of thirty-nine, she was murdered by the Gestapo while being held in a prison cell.

Anne-Marie Walters served under the British SOE, the clandestine Special Operations Executive. Just twenty-years-old, she was dropped into Nazi-occupied France. There she acted as courier for messages, delivered explosives, arranged the escape of downed airmen back to Britain, and helped receive parachute drops of ammunition and personnel.

Steve Haberman

Odette Sansom, a Brit spy, was hunted and eventually captured by Germany’s best spy-catcher. Starved, tortured (the Gestapo yanked out her toenails), and beaten, she never gave up important intelligence. After the war, she received numerous awards for her service.

Vera Atkins acted as one of the brains behind the Special Operations Executive headquarters in London. She held responsibility for numerous women dropped into France as wireless operators and message carriers. After the war, she was haunted by the deaths of so many of her female agents. To discover their fates, she tirelessly crisscrossed Europe to find out what had happened.

These last two heroines so captured one director’s imagination she made a movie about them, Liberte: A Call to Spy. Based on fact, it will be released in the U.S. this year.

A fictional female war reporter in my thriller explains to Jonas Shaw, the protagonist: “War might be a man’s business, but that doesn’t mean we have to play by their silly rules.” She doesn’t. And the real-life heroines didn’t either. Read up on some of them. I have. A lot. Discover why they inspire. Appreciate their sacrifices. I hope a bit of their courage slipped into my female characters in Winston Churchill’s Renegade Spy.

To enter to win an ebook copy of Winston Churchill’s Renegade Spy, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “churchill,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen August 22, 2020. U.S. residents only, and you must be 18 or older to enter. You can read our privacy statement here if you like.

Check out other mystery articles, reviews, book giveaways & mystery short stories in our mystery section. And join our mystery Facebook group to keep up with everything mystery we post, and have a chance at some extra giveaways. Also listen to our new mystery podcast where mystery short stories and first chapters are read by actors! They are also available on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, and Spotify. A new episode went up last week!

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I attended college at the University of Texas in Austin. Later I was admitted to UCLA’s legal assistant program. After earning my certificate, I worked for a time at a medium-size law firm in Los Angeles. Profitable stock market investments let me retire early. Since then I’ve traveled extensively to Europe, usually for up to three months. Many of the cities there—London, Paris, Berlin—feature in my tales of murder and mayhem: Murder Without Pity, Darkness and Blood, The Killing Ploy, Winston Churchill’s Renegade Spy. I’m currently working on Where the Bones Lie. Berlin, 1946, and a famed woman American reporter has gone missing. For more information:

Disclosure: This post contains links to an affiliate program, for which we receive a few cents if you make purchases. KRL also receives free copies of most of the books that it reviews, that are provided in exchange for an honest review of the book.


  1. We have a winner!


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