Does This Woman Look Like A Spy?

July 7, 2020 by · Leave a Comment 

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What reader isn’t fascinated by the idea of women secret agents operating behind enemy lines during WW II? What we now know about these unsung heroines is primarily due to the 1995 opening of formerly classified archives on the 50th anniversary marking the end of that terrible conflict.

In early phases of Allied clandestine operations, many female secret agents played the role of “Honey Traps” and “Madam Fifis”–goodlooking women recruited to use their charms to ferret out information from the enemy in ways most masculine agents could not. They also employed their persuasive “feminine wiles” to uncover bad-risk Alled secret agents-in-training working for our side! If these men proved indiscreet and unable to keep a secret, they were subsequently removed from their assignments before going behind enemy lines and possibly getting other agents killed.

One of the most skillful of all these American Mata Haris was Amy Elizabeth Thorpe, an American former debutant (seen here as a young bride of British diplomat Arthur Pack) working undercover for British Intelligence in Washington D.C. before and after Pearl Harbor.

I became obsessed with her incredible real-life story and used her as a prototype for my fictional heroine, Catherine Thornton, in my lastest novel, LANDING BY MOONLIGHT, published in late 2019.

My book opens with a scene based on this extraordinary “lady spy” persuading a French diplomat to break into his own embassy in D.C. and help her steal crucial naval communication codes from the collaborating Vichy French government. This, against all odds,they managed to do, allowing the Allies to learn exactly what Hitler’s forces were up to in the Mediterranean prior to invasions not only at Normandy, but also, eight weeks later, on the beaches of the South of France. The Allies were then able to conquer the north of Africa and from there, invade Southern Italy and eventually land in France, pushing north to meet up with General Eisenhower’s troops heading south from the landings at Omaha Beach.

“Betty” Thorpe and a handful of American women secret agents performed many largely unknown, heroic deeds that helped the Allies win the war. Don’t you agree that it’s far past time their stories were told?

(LANDING BY MOONLIGHT is available in print and as an ebook from all major online retailers and in bookstores through the Ingram Catalogue).

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