Her Last Betrayal by Pam Lecky: A simmering mystery with some real wartime history – book review –

Ireland might have declared neutrality as the Second World War rages but that hasn’t stopped Dubliner Sarah Gillespie from joining the British Secret Service.

By Pam Norfolk
Friday, 22nd April 2022, 12:30 pm
Her Last Betrayal by Pam Lecky
Her Last Betrayal by Pam Lecky

Faced with her most dangerous mission yet, Sarah is on the track of a traitorous IRA operative who is planning to collaborate with German infiltrators… a man better known to Sarah as her own father.

Irish author Pam Lecky, whose historical novels are noted for their winning blend of crime, mystery and a dash of romance, returns to the perilous heart of wartime in the second book of a series that began with Her Secret War and follows the undercover role of a gutsy but disillusioned young Irishwoman.

Easily read as a standalone, Her Last Betrayal is a gripping, action-packed thriller offering historical fiction fans a unique and fascinating perspective on the wartime work of MI5 and the secret services… through a pair of Irish eyes.

Brimming with secrets, espionage, betrayal and intrigue, Lecky ratchets up the tension as intrepid agent Sarah is teamed up with a cynical and hostile American ally and heads off to the brooding mountains of Wales on a mission that could see them both killed.

When the Germans dropped bombs on Dublin in May of 1941, they took Sarah Gillespie’s home and her beloved sister, Maura. Devastated by her loss, Sarah’s boyfriend Paul O’Reilly left Ireland to enlist with the RAF just days later.

With nothing to keep her in Ireland and a burning desire to help the war effort, Sarah sought refuge with relatives in England. But her father Jim Gillespie’s dark past is fast catching up with her and Sarah has only one thing on her mind… revenge.

She has already proved her loyalty to Britain through a special mission for the secret services but early in 1942, Sarah is recruited once again to track down her father who, she feels, betrayed both herself and Maura by abandoning them to the bombs in Dublin.

Gillespie is believed to be heading up an IRA cell in England which is planning to raid an arms factory in Pontypool in Wales. Tasked with finding the would-be bombers in Wales’ Black Mountains and bringing them to justice, Sarah is partnered with American undercover agent Lieutenant Tony Anderson.

But blunt-talking Tony is not used to working with women and has a deep suspicion that Sarah is secretly working with the IRA. When he questions her loyalties, Sarah believes their partnership is doomed from the start and hopes the mission will be over as soon as possible.

But when one of her team is revealed to be a German mole, and enemies begin to close in, what price will Sarah have to pay to save her country… and herself?

Expect danger and derring-do all the way as Sarah and Tony embark on a wild ride from war-torn London to the mountainous countryside of Wales where the reluctant duo face bullets, betrayals, devilish double-crossing, hidden enemies, and the early blossoming of an unexpected romance.

At the centre of the action is our spirited Irish heroine whose very personal impetus for the mission adds an extra emotional power to the story. This is a woman who has had to mature beyond her years and is hell-bent on revenge since the tragic death of her sister and the discovery that her IRA renegade father is prepared to cosy up with the Nazis.

With surprises at every turn, a simmering mystery, some real wartime history, and a cast of compelling characters, Lecky has laid the ground perfectly for another outing with super-spy Sarah.

(Avon, paperback, £8.99)