Written by Mal Peet
Review by Ken Kreckel

In 1944, two Dutch SOE agents return to occupied Holland on a mission to help the resistance. They are soon immersed in the daily drudgery of the spy trade, existing in a curious state composed of equal parts of fear and boredom. One, with the code name Tamar, renews a love with a beautiful farm girl named Marijke. The other descends into a drug-induced unreality. The lives of all are soon torn by secrets and betrayal.

In 1995, an English teenager named Tamar inherits a strange treasure from her granddad. It holds a stack of money, Nazi identity papers and a myriad of enigmatic clues, including some maps of the River Tamar in Cornwall. Hoping these items will explain her grandfather’s suicide, Tamar begins a quest which takes her not only across England, but back a half century as well, a journey which will change her life forever.

Although this is a novel for young adults, there is nothing juvenile about it. Dealing with themes of passion and jealousy, love and possession, it crawls its way into the reader’s soul. Set against the backdrop of the terrible winter of 1944-45, when the Dutch literally starved while awaiting a liberation that refused to come, the tale centers on the ultimate tragedy of lives wasted. The injustice assaults the characters’ very humanity. As Marijke remarks, you can take anything unless you start to hope. Still, a glimmer of hope remains, in the form of a child yet unborn.

I wholeheartedly recommend this well written, meaningful tale to adults of all ages.