Leah Kolbe is an independent antiquities dealer in the early 1940s Hong Kong community. Her lover, Jonathan, is insistent that they marry soon, but Leah is reluctant to subordinate her life to the possessive rule of a husband. Realizing she loves him deeply, she agrees to his proposal; they plan an engagement party, an unrivaled night of revelry that never comes to pass because Jonathan is called to report as war is about to break out with the invasion of Japan. Meanwhile, Leah meets a very insistent customer who claims that he absolutely must have a porcelain piece, emphasized by his gaze at her while stating, “One can’t be lonely surrounded by beauty.” Contrived as that may seem to the reader, Leah is mesmerized while confused about how a Japanese person, Mr. Ito, can concentrate so avidly on art while his nation’s soldiers are slaughtering Chinese on the mainland and threatening Hong Kong. She has the feeling she will see him again, though she’s certainly not anticipating the encounter with delight, but forgets him in the aftermath of the Chinese invasion and her own miraculous escape to Macao, where she discovers Jonathan is being held as a prisoner of war.
“Survivor” is the perfect word to describe Leah hereafter, as she becomes a spy who must counter the attention of Mr. Ito and the dreaded Chang. A momentary blunder could mean her death, but Leah manages to evade others who are also secretly spying and at the same time convey information vital to the British recovering Hong Kong for the Chinese and protecting Macao from the formidable Japanese advance. Deep Night is a terrific read that conveys the mystery, tension and historical significance of a pivotal period of Asian history.