NEW RELEASE | The Shadow Network | A Gripping WWII Thriller by Deborah Swift

The Shadow Network
Deborah Swift
One woman must sacrifice everything to uncover the truth in this enthralling historical novel, inspired by the true World War Two campaign Radio Aspidistra…
England, 1942: Having fled Germany after her father was captured by the Nazis, Lilli Bergen is desperate to do something pro-active for the Allies. So when she’s approached by the Political Warfare Executive, Lilli jumps at the chance. She’s recruited as a singer for a radio station broadcasting propaganda to German soldiers – a shadow network.
But Lilli’s world is flipped upside down when her ex-boyfriend, Bren Murphy, appears at her workplace; the very man she thinks betrayed her father to the Nazis. Lilli always thought Bren was a Nazi sympathiser – so what is he doing in England supposedly working against the Germans?
Lilli knows Bren is up to something, and must put aside a blossoming new relationship in order to discover the truth. Can Lilli expose him, before it’s too late?
Set in the fascinating world of wartime radio, don’t miss The Shadow Network, a heart-stopping novel of betrayal, treachery, and courage against the odds.
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Enjoy an Excerpt from The Shadow Network:
Extract from Chapter 5
Brandenburg, Germany, 1941
Bren Murphy was one of seven men in the hut making explosive devices using sugar, potash, and flour stuffed into a pipe.
He poured the mix of powder down the funnel, enjoying the sound like sand running into an hourglass. His hands were already reaching for another pipe. Always restless, he relished this training with the Brandenburg commandos, a stiff regime designed to equip them for undercover missions in enemy territory.
Bren glanced at his fellow commandos, all hard at work for the National Socialist Party. He wished the doubters could see them in training – many Germans looked down on the Brandenburg units with derision because they were mostly ex-pats brought back from Europe. He of course was not an expat, not even German, but an Irishman with a PhD in German. Most Wehrmacht men were too soft – they wouldn’t last five minutes on the tough assault courses the commandos had to tackle.
Bren flexed his muscles, still stiff from night-time runs through the forest with a forty-pound pack, and continued with his task. He leant into the table, mixing the ingredients with his red India-rubber gloves and using the funnel to get the stuff inside another tube. He tried not to breathe in the dry gunpowder dust that hung in the air. He stood back, ripped off his gloves, and admired his handiwork. A five pounder – it would knock the smile off someone’s face, and half the neighbourhood too.
Practical tasks had always suited him, and anything with an edge of danger. But now, after three weeks in the camp, he wanted action. He couldn’t wait to get posted.
‘You done already?’ His friend Alix Hoffnung asked in perfectly accented English. Alix was another English speaker, who’d been educated in Oxford.
‘Yup. Done it before. I’ve shoved in a little extra. Guess it’ll blow a few people out of their boots.’
‘God in heaven! Don’t let the Kommandant catch you. Don’t suppose we’ll be allowed to try it out on the testing range,’ Alix said. ‘There won’t be time.’
‘Yeah, the training’s gone quick.’
‘D’you use bombs in Ireland?’
Bren nodded. ‘Same sort of thing. Mostly nitro though if we could get it.’ He’d been part of the IRA as long as he could remember, from being a nipper. Brought up on it, like everyone else in his street. The Nazis wanted to crush the Brits, just like the IRA. Difference was, the Germans were better organised and better equipped for it too.
‘What did you target?’ Alix asked.
‘Same as the S-plan here. Anything to cause disruption to the English. Electricity sub-stations, trains, government buildings. But one of them went wrong and I had to get out smartish. After that, they upped the surveillance.’ He paused, remembering. ‘Bicycle bomb. Last August, in Coventry – killed five civilians – one hell of a mess. Supposed to make them take us seriously.’
‘And did it?’
‘I’ll say. Worked too well. Papers had a feeding frenzy and turned everyone against the IRA. Of course it was all backed by the Abwehr, so that’s how the Gestapo got wind of me. Von Hippel tracked me down in Dublin and asked if I wanted to serve with him.’
Alix stoppered his metal pipe with the bunch of rag provided, and stripped off his gloves. ‘We should be out of here in a few days,’ he said. ‘Wish I knew where I’d be going.’
‘I don’t care,’ Bren said, ‘so long as it’s not Ireland. Or the Eastern Front. Hoping for England; get even with the bastards.’
‘I’ll miss all this.’
‘What? Five o’clock wake-up calls and sawing through underwater bridges in minus two?’
‘God yes. That was awful.’ Alix paused. ‘No. I mean having company; like-minded comrades. Out there, we’ll be on our own.’
‘Just the way I like it,’ Bren said.
‘What, no women?’
‘Only if there are no ties.’ His mind went back to Lilli, to her face when she bumped into him with Hilde when he was supposed to be at football practice. That look of shock and incomprehension. But he couldn’t hang out with her any more, not once he knew her mother was Jewish. It would have tainted him with the Party for good.
No, she was a pariah. In the end he’d told his PhD supervisor the Bergens were Jewish sympathisers, and it had earned him a bunch of Brownie points with the Gestapo, and consolidated their special interest in him as a trusted member of the IRA.
‘First thing I’ll do if I ever get to England,’ Alix said, a dreamy expression on his face. ‘Find a screw.’
‘Make sure it’s a clean one then. I’ve heard dodgy whores are the Brits’ secret weapon.’
Alix grinned and stuffed more explosive into the pipe.
Deborah Swift is the English author of eighteen historical novels, including Millennium Award winner Past Encounters, and The Lady’s Slipper, shortlisted for the Impress Prize.
Her most recent books are the Renaissance trilogy based around the life of the poisoner Giulia Tofana, The Poison Keeper and its sequels, one of which won the Coffee Pot Book Club Gold Medal. Recently she has completed a secret agent series set in WW2, the first in the series being The Silk Code.
Deborah used to work as a set and costume designer for theatre and TV and enjoys the research aspect of creating historical fiction, something she loved doing as a scenographer. She likes to write about extraordinary characters set against the background of real historical events. Deborah lives in North Lancashire on the edge of the Lake District, an area made famous by the Romantic Poets such as Wordsworth and Coleridge.
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