The Great Deception, Joy Chambers‘ latest novel, is set in Nazi-occupied Holland during the war and follows the tale of one of Britain’s highly trained Special Operations Executive (SOE) operatives, Cole Wareing, and a Dutch patriot, Laetitia de Witt as they cooperate on a deadly, but daring mission.
Starting in 1947, the novel shows Cole and his new wife Shelly living in a post-war idyllic retreat on a farm in the NSW Southern Highlands. But when three sinister figures appear out of the dark one night, all Cole’s wartime instincts are triggered and he knows he must run to save his life, and that of his wife as well. For the men in the dark are convinced he is a traitor who has hoodwinked the authorities on his return from the war. But since Shelly knows nothing of Cole’s part in the war, he leaves her behind with little more than a note and a mystery.
By chance in 1944, Cole strongly resembled a colonel in the SS, who happened to be returning to Nazi Holland after being wounded on the Eastern Front. SOE had taken advantage of the opportunity and assigned Cole to a dangerous and potentially deadly mission – that of impersonating the SS Colonel Lucien Bayer and infiltrating Nazi command. His goals were to send information back to England, and if possible, arrange sabotage or destruction of Nazi assets. Along the way, his drop team and compatriots are assisted by Laetitia de Witt, a Dutch national with the appearance of being a Nazi collaborator but who is in fact secretly in league with the Resistance. Unexpectedly, she found herself falling for Lucien/Cole and he for her. But the perils faced by Cole’s fellow operatives are brought to a head when they attempt to bomb a secret factory in Holland and find themselves wondering where Cole’s loyalties actually lie. Is it possible that the impersonation has become a reality?
Back in 1947, as Cole races across the globe to find out crucial information to prove his innocence, his wife Shelly uncovers SS regalia and a curious photograph addressed to Lucien/Cole back at the farmhouse in Australia. She realises that she cannot be left behind once again, so she packs a bag and makes her own way across the oceans to Europe, armed only with the address of the photographer in Monte Carlo, but knowing that this is the start of the trail to find out more about the man she married. As Shelly and Cole head towards their answers, the three men in the night are also chasing Cole.
A dramatic story, greatly detailed, with references to real people, places and events in wartime Holland. The human touch added by the romance and conflicts that each character experiences makes this story seem only more real.
Available now: Hachette RRP$29.99