This historical fiction and spy thriller mashup had some good moments but seemed to take a long time to go nowhere in particular.
The most exciting part of Code Name Edelweiss is finding out that Lewis was a real person, trying to prevent the events of WWII and Hitler’s legacy as a Jewish lawyer in California. That awareness and gumption is incredible; it makes me want to have loved this story more. Maybe if he had been more prominent, I would have felt differently.
Leisl and Wilhelm were interesting but too stiff. They were only allowed to have certain characteristics and rarely strayed. Intensely organised and harshly aloof are challenging personalities to maintain, especially when acting as spies, but they seem to manage.
In the end, it’s a big buildup for a bit of a kerfuffle which doesn’t go anywhere. There are too many inconsistencies to explain away, and it’s hard to drill down to the narrative’s point other than the painfully obvious ‘Nazis are bad’. I’m sure you’re supposed to take away this ‘stand up for the downtrodden‘ and ‘if not me, then who’ stuff, but honestly, Wilhelm and Liesl aren’t convincing bearers of this message. Besides, they may be the worst spies ever. Every one of their plots would have failed immediately in the real world, and the Nazis would have seen right through them.
With simultaneously too much and not enough going on, this was a difficult read at times. In the end, it was probably more good than bad, but I can’t say it’s the most successful WWII fiction I’ve read – though it does claim some respect as a unique angle. With some editing and a more pointed direction, I think Code Name Edelweiss would have been much more successful.