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2.24.2012

Book Review - The Consummate Traitor


Book Review The Consummate Traitor 
Author: Bonnie Toews

WWII meets action thriller, meets historical fiction, meets spy mystery in The Consummate Traitor by Bonnie Toews. Hitler, the Americans, and all of Europe raced to develop the first atomic bomb, while WWII raged on. In the midst of that conflict, a talented young pianist of British nobility finds herself involved in the war in a most unusual way. When Lady Grace’s parents die in a London bombing, she joins journalist Lee Talbot as a spy. Using Lady Grace’s piano music to transmit coded messages to British covert missions in Nazi-held territory, both women soon wind up in grave danger. Together, they experience the horrors of war, the dreadful reality of what Hitler did to the Jews, and the nightmare of betrayal.

Print version
In the same way The Help portrayed history of the civil rights movement through a fictional story, this book portrays the history of WWII through fiction. Although it’s fiction, it’s well researched and inspired by real stories. This fast-paced story draws the reader in and it held my interest well. There were a few unexpected twists and turns and true to reality, everything didn’t wrap up in neat little packages.

This is a gritty story. Toews doesn’t tiptoe around and make war seem pretty. This is a clean book from a moral standpoint in how the author handled certain situations. I wouldn’t label this as a Christian book, as there are no overt faith lessons in it, but there are life lessons to be learned from the characters.

This book actually surprised me because it’s published by the author, not a royalty publisher, and it’s done better than most self-published books. I found some instances of “head hopping” which is where the perspective shifts from one character’s point of view to another’s from one paragraph to the next. This can be confusing for the reader because we’re able to see inside the head of too many characters at one time. I asked the author about this and she was so gracious about my critique. This is her first work of fiction and she’s already working on improving some of these issues in the next book.

The great news is that the story is compelling enough that most readers can get past the point of view problems and really enjoy the book. That says a lot about the story.

There were a few places in the story where something happens abruptly, and from a reader’s perspective, it needed more development. In one case, characters fell in love and progressed to talking about marriage within several paragraphs. The relationship hadn’t really developed at all prior to that. And I won’t give a spoiler, but there is one revelation at the end that seemed abrupt and completely unnecessary for the story.

I say this all because a few changes would easily take this book from good to great. I’d love to see more books by this author done with a royalty publisher with the type of editing such a publisher would offer. I think this author has great potential, and I’m a tough critic. She knows how to write good dialogue and how to take the reader along rather than telling the reader about a scene.

Bonnie Toews approached me about reviewing the book and provided me with a free Kindle copy of the book. I was not obligated to give a favorable review.

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