Cover Image: The Traitor Beside Her

The Traitor Beside Her

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Member Reviews

historical-novel, historical-places-events, historical-research, historical-setting, espionage, mystery, cryptography, code-talking, suspense, intrigue, informants, information-mgmt, spy-gadgets, friends, friendship, thriller, 1944, WW2, Washington DC, traitor, unputdownable*****

Excellent follow-up to The Physicists’ Daughter!
Justine may be anachronistic in her time, but so were her mother and godmother back in Louisiana. She is added to a relatively new intelligence gathering agency in Washington, DC to find a traitor. At first it seems as if she is not up to the job. Then the work planned for her is railroaded into an even more useful one. That also results in being reunited with her friend and helping her to finish learning high school subjects while being taught Choctaw as a coded language. Lots more twists and surprises make this an excellent read! I found the story and the writing riveting and insightful with evidence of real research. As a dedicated history geek, I loved it!
I requested and received an EARC from Poisoned Pen Press via NetGalley. Thank you!
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This is an excellent World War II spy mystery with an intelligent and appealing female protagonist and an interesting and detailed setting in an Arlington Virginia cryptogram center and a women’s dormitory. The book has a good momentum and convincingly portrays the domestic World War II environment
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Big thanks to both Poisoned Pen Press and NetGalley for the opportunity to read and review an early copy of The Traitor Beside Her!

Expected publication June 6, 2023

A former women's college in Virginia has been taken over by the United States Army.  Justine works among them, handling the most sensitive secrets of World War II. She isn't there to decipher German codes, however. She's there to find a traitor.

This was a fun book to read!  As others have said, Justine is a bit like James Bond.  Make that a very YOUNG James Bond, as is her best friend, Georgette.  I loved reading about the gadgets they were given!!   There was a lot of suspense and mystery, as well as plenty of other well-fleshed-out characters.  Don't take it too seriously.  Just hang on to your seat and enjoy the ride! 

The last line of the book totally hooked me.  I hope this is going to be a series!
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World War II novels are quite popular, but they seldom take readers into the homefront, and seldom into the world of spies here in the U.S. When we meet Justine Byrne, she’s welding ships in the Washington Navy Yard in late December, 1944. But, that’s just training for her real job, and she hasn’t been training long. It’s an emergency, though, and she’s given the name of Samantha Ogletree from Summerville, Georgia, assigned to work in a massive cryptoanalysis operation run by the army. Someone there is a spy, and Justine is assigned to poke around until she can find the person who caused the loss of a bridge and lives in Europe.

Justine’s handler didn’t expect her to be recognized, though, the minute she got off the bus at her new assignment. Karl Becker from the Signal Security Agency knew Justine’s parents, who were physicists. She’s suddenly working for Becker while her friend, Georgette, takes Justine’s identity as Samantha, and her original job as a secretary.

Justine and Georgette have an intense few weeks as they ask questions of the women they live with in a dorm-like environment, and as they watch fellow employees. They get closer and closer to the spy, as they uncover stories of women who have disappeared. Then, it’s Justine’s turn to become a threat to the spy, and she only has a few months of training to help her when she’s in danger.

Here’s my takeaway from The Traitor Beside Her. I liked Justine and Georgette, but they were so young, only 21! By late in the war, their training was rushed. There was no time to adequately prepare them for undercover work. They were lucky that Justine’s godmother provided them with a few weapons because their handler didn’t. “In undercover work, safety is constantly at odds with secrecy”, and it certainly was in this case.

Looking for a woman’s view of espionage on the homefront? Check out Mary Anna Evans’ The Traitor Beside Her.
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I loved this book! If you like historical fiction with a great mystery, you will love it too. The main character Justine is trying to find a traitor among the decoders during WWII. You follow her story, and other well written characters, as they try to figure out what is going on. I thought the story moved quickly, the dialog helped make the story interesting and the characters were believable for the time period. I liked how the descriptions were written so you felt like you were right there with them as they navigated through the different locations. I hope they make these characters into a series, I loved all of them! I can't wait to read another book by this author!
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ARC received by NetGalley. Thank you!

A solid historical fiction read for anyone interested in WWII era novels with strong female characters. The Traitor Beside Her follows Justine Byrne, a new undercover operative working in the Washington DC area. When it is discovered that there is a traitor working in the code-breaking department she is tasked with uncovering the truth and stopping the traitor. Her failure will change the tide of the war towards favor of the Nazis. Working alongside her best friend Georgette and a great cast of supporting characters Justine works towards achieving her task and learns more about herself along the way.

Absolutely an interesting read that explores a part of 1940's history that is often overlooked in recent HF books. Arlington was a major area that helped the US win the war but often books focus on the European front. It was enjoyable to read something based stateside in areas that I have visisted.

Highly recommended read.
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It's late 1944 and whilst WW2 might be drawing to a close, espionage is peaking.  Justine Byrne has just recently finished a crash course in spying; utilising her intelligence, and gift for math and languages.  When it appears that an enemy has infiltrated the high-level security at Arlington, stealing secrets from the code breakers, Justine is sent in to work as an undercover agent.  It is imperative she discovers the mole before more people are killed, 'Wars are won with information.'  But in an agency full of professional secret keepers, code makers, and code breakers, how do you discover who is lying? 'The world was full of coded messages. But how was she to know which ones were deadly?'

'The Traitor Beside Her' is very much like a female James Bond story, complete with nifty gadgets and disguises.  The utilisation of other characters' voices to tell the story was a great way to add depth to the story.  I would have liked to have read more about the actual secrets and code-breaking going on, as well as further character development.  The book ends on a high and it clearly leaves room for a sequel.  I thought it was an ok read.
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The Traitor Beside Her by Mary Anna Evans is a great WWII-era historical fiction that takes place in the States over a week in December of 1944.

This book has it all: fictional narrative, historical facts, mystery, suspense, intrigue, secrets, wisps of romance, and had me pulled in from the very beginning. 

I loved the full character cast of Justine, Jerry, Georgette, Paul, and the full set of secondary characters as well. 

The author kept the pace going, the dialogue snazzy, crisp, and realistic. I felt fully invested in this mission myself, and thoroughly enjoyed the experience. 

Maybe next time…Los Alamos. 

5/5 stars 

Thank you NG and Poisoned Pen Press for this wonderful arc and in return I am submitting my unbiased and voluntary review and opinion.

I am posting this review to my GR and Bookbub accounts immediately and will post it to my Amazon, Instagram, and B&N accounts upon publication on 6/6/23.
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[arc review]
Thank you to NetGalley and Poisoned Pen Press for providing an arc in exchange for an honest review.
The Traitor Beside Her releases June 6, 2023

This historical mystery hooked me from start to end.
Readers that enjoy WW2 settings, undercover work, traitors/spies, decrypting coded messages, secrets, female friendship, and statements such as “trust no one” will for sure like this book!

Set in Arlington during one week in December in 1944, we meet Justine, whose task is to determine who among the coders in Room 117 is a traitor. But mere minutes into her first day, her disguise is busted by a longtime family friend. With quick thinking from their government team, her best friend Georgette gets reassigned as her roommate, and takes over the false identity of Samantha.

This had exciting elements of purses with false bottoms for hidden compartments, a tiny camera built into a handheld matchbox, pens and pencils disguised to hide a functioning blade, a gun with a singular .22 bullet, and a chamber with pepper spray.

I really enjoyed how we didn’t just get the narration of the main character Justine, but also had perspectives scattered throughout of most of the secondary characters. It allowed this to be well-rounded and gave the reader the opportunity to piece together clues from all angles.

I was expecting a bit more detail or incorporation of actual decrypting of messages/codes, but overall I was quite satisfied with the progression of the story and how everything wrapped up and was revealed. Sometimes the best kept secrets are hidden in plain sight.

With the way this book ended, I feel like there’s a high chance that this could turn into a series — at least, I hope so! I’d definitely read about Justine/Georgette/Jerry/Paul’s next adventure.

“You can’t afford to ignore everything going on around you. You can’t afford to ignore anything. You have to see everything around you, all the time.”

“And if you do decide you want him, do not be fooled into believing that you must want him forever. At every juncture, you must ask yourself whether he is worth what you’ve sacrificed to be with him. And make no mistake, there is always a sacrifice for both parties.”
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My original love of reading came from historical fiction (specifically those Dear America books) and I’ve since become engrossed in thrillers. Mixing historical fiction with a thriller was not something I’d read before and as I expected of me, I devoured this read in a single sitting. This was straight thriller magic from beginning to end
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With all the action and intellect of a Bourne movie, this book kept me wanting to read just one more chapter!  An avid mystery enthusiast, I had several guesses to our traitor, but wasn't prepared for what fully unraveled.  And the thought that there just might be another one to follow this...well, I'll be watching this author to see when it publishes.  A clean, historic mystery, perfect for curling up with through a long winter snowstorm....
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This was a really well done novel, it had a great historical element going through it. It worked in the time-period set and the people in this felt like real people in this time-period. I enjoyed the way Mary Anna Evans wrote this and really enjoyed getting to know the characters. I can't wait to read more from Mary Anna Evans.

"Karl might have been out of breath, but that didn’t keep him from chuckling. “Exactly. But the Navy, all along, felt that it needed its own code breakers. The situation came to a head with this war, with the Army and Navy sometimes forgetting who the enemy was in their hurry to be the first to break an important code or message.”
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