“What I am looking for—what I desperately need, Mrs. Weiss—is a spy.”
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.
I loved reading Code Name Edelweiss, a historical fiction spy novel set in Hollywood in 1933. Based on a true story, this fabulous book challenged me to think about the massive and horrifying potential implications of what was happening in 1933 around the globe, particularly in Europe and the United States, when Hitler gained control of Germany.
Being an Aussie, Hollywood and Germany are a long way from home. That said, Hollywood films in the 1930’s were played in cinemas around Australia. If the Friends of New Germany propaganda machine in Los Angeles had taken control of the Hollywood studios, who knows how many more people, especially Jewish people, would have perished as a consequence of Hitler’s indoctrination activities during his evil reign of terror.
The stakes are high, and Liesl is drawn into a dangerous world working undercover as a secretary in the heart of the Friends of New Germany organisation. Agent Thirteen is also spying for the Jewish lawyer who employed Liesl. He has infiltrated the organisation, and is unaware of Liesl’s true identity.
I read this book quickly, and couldn’t put it down. I was awake until 2am, close to the end, and I finished reading the book when I woke in the morning.
I enjoyed reading Stephanie Landsem’s debut novel, In a Far-Off Land, and Code Name Edelweiss exceeded my expectations. I recommend Code Name Edelweiss to historical fiction readers who like intriguing spy novels with romantic elements, suspense, and faith themes woven beautifully into a story set in 1930’s Hollywood.
Many thanks to Tyndale and NetGalley for the advanced reader copy.