Adolf Hitler is still a distant rumble on the horizon, but a Jewish spymaster and his courageous spies uncover a storm of Nazi terror in their own backyard.
In the summer of 1933, a man named Adolf Hitler is the new and powerful anti-Semitic chancellor of Germany. But in Los Angeles, no-nonsense secretary Liesl Weiss has concerns much closer to home. The Great Depression is tightening its grip and Liesl is the sole supporter of two children, an opinionated mother, and a troubled brother.
Leon Lewis is a Jewish lawyer who has watched Adolf Hitler’s rise to power–and the increase in anti-Semitism in America–with growing alarm. He believes Nazi agents are working to seize control of Hollywood, the greatest propaganda machine the world has ever known. The trouble is, authorities scoff at his dire warnings.
When Liesl loses her job at MGM, her only choice is to work with Leon Lewis and the mysterious Agent Thirteen to spy on her friends and neighbors in her German American community. What Leon Lewis and his spies find is more chilling–and more dangerous–than any of them suspected.
Code Name Edelweiss is based on a true story, unknown until recent years: How a lone Jewish lawyer and a handful of amateur spies discovered and foiled Adolf Hitler’s plan to take over Hollywood.
“A girl like you oughta be in pictures.” Gary Perl turned away from his bird’s-eye view of the MGM studio lot and appraised me from my Peter Pan collar to the toes of my sensible oxfords.
* Thanks to NetGalley and Tyndale House Publishers for an eARC of this book. The following review is my honest reflection on the text provided. *
enjoyable/easy to read:
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.