Sarah Gillespie is back! The third gripping and emotional WWII historical fiction novel from Pam Lecky is available now!
Her letters can save the country. But can she be trusted?
A double agent.
As World War Two rages, MI5 agent Sarah Gillespie is faced with her toughest challenge yet: handling Adeline Vernier, a mysterious double agent from Paris.
A dangerous mission.
Adeline’s coded letters could help the Allies defeat the Germans – but, in return, she demands that her boyfriend is rescued from Nazi-occupied France. Adeline is not above threatening to double-cross MI5 to get what she wants, leaving Sarah fearful for the millions of lives at stake.
Letters that could change their lives forever.
As they embark on a secret operation through Lisbon, they must tread carefully to avoid the clutches of the Nazis. But will they make it out alive, together? Or is the enemy closer than they realise?
Buy Link: https://mybook.to/TheLastLetterFromL
Enjoy an Excerpt:
14th March 1944, Comrie Railway Station, Perthshire, Scotland
A sudden hush settled over the platform. Sarah watched as the German POWs marched past, heads held high. They were a ragged bunch up close, not quite what you would expect from the propaganda films coming out of the Reich. However, the locals stood back against the station wall as the group filed past towards the exit. Their shock at seeing the German uniforms was evident in their horrified expressions. One young mother grabbed her child’s hand and pulled him into the ticket office, from where she peered out through the door. Perhaps it was understandable, the desire to protect the innocent from the ghastly reality, Sarah thought. But at this stage of the war, surely everyone had been touched by it in some way, even the smallest of children.
But Sarah knew today was different for the people of Comrie. This group of POWs were the first German prisoners to be sent here. The prison camp to which they were bound had only held Italian prisoners up until now; men who were so low risk they helped on the neighbouring farms and were on friendly terms with most of the locals.
These prisoners were different; these were hard-core Nazis.
Lieutenant Pike, who was the officer in charge of the prisoner transport, had told her they were all fanatics, which was why they were going to Cultybraggan. Only recently, the camp had been designated to hold the staunchest fascists; the most dangerous.
Cultybraggan Camp was Sarah’s destination, too.
Up to this point in her career in MI5, Sarah had only encountered fifth columnists with Nazi leanings. Now, it was unsettling to see native Germans on British soil. Men like the Luftwaffe pilot who had killed her sister Maura and destroyed her home back in Dublin. Or perhaps U-boat crewmen who might have been responsible for setting off the torpedo which sank her fiancé Paul’s ship, mid-Atlantic. How could she bear to look at them and feel … well, nothing? What a surprise! Had her experiences over the last few years softened her resolve, or was she now simply weary of it all? When she had left Ireland, it was to seek revenge. Nothing else had mattered. And here was the perfect opportunity. All she had to do was grab a rifle from one of the Tommies and pull the trigger. She was an excellent shot, although she had only ever used a gun once in the field and that was to wing an assassin. However, she still cringed at the memory of shooting Clara Mazet; Sarah was no killer. Besides, taking down one Hitler fanatic would not bring Maura or Paul back… If only she could be confident her endeavours were making a difference and helping to end the war. There had been days, recently, when she had doubted it. Today, however, might change all of that. Her assignment was risky, the dangers unknown, but she would be in control.
As she looked at the prisoners, all Sarah felt was curiosity. What was it about national socialism that turned decent human beings into killing machines? As one youth passed, she reckoned he was no more than sixteen; another example of a brainwashed Hitler Youth sent to the frontline. Was it possible that he, too, was full of zeal and cruelty? God help him, he’s only a child. He caught her gaze for a moment, and much to her surprise, she saw his chin tremble as he turned away. Did he fear what lay ahead or was it the knowledge he had let Hitler down by getting caught?
Outside the train station, the POWs were ordered to line up by their escorting guards. They stood to attention, completely rigid, their faces masking whatever emotions churned beneath the surface. Yet Sarah was sure their hearts must be full of dread. What awaited them? Did they fear the conditions of the camp would mirror those at home in the Fatherland? The rumours she had heard about German and Japanese camps were blood curdling. Intelligence was scant, but she had heard of people being worked and starved to death, roped into the Nazi war machine. There was even talk of death camps and mass murder. Sarah found it difficult to comprehend that people had the capacity for such cruelty and yet, she had to admit, the past few years had shown her people were capable of almost any depravity if pushed to their limit. As a result, she now rarely trusted anyone until they had proven themselves; a far cry from the Sarah Gillespie who had first left Ireland to seek refuge with her relatives in Hampshire. Her aunt and uncle had welcomed her into their home and their life, her cousins Martin and Judith had become close, and Sarah was ever thankful for that. And even though there had been low points in her life since, she knew she could always rely on them.
It had taken two days to get here, and the last leg of her journey had been on the special train for the transport of prisoners; an arrangement made by MI5’s man in Edinburgh. For most of the trip, Sarah had been in the company of Lieutenant Pike. He had informed her they had captured the majority of the prisoners only the week before. Half the men were Kriegsmarine U-boat crew, the others were Fallschirmjäger, members of the parachute branch of the Luftwaffe. Two, however, were Waffen-SS officers, easy to pick out with their black uniforms, giving them a more sinister appearance than their compatriots. Maybe that was what had spooked the young mother on the platform.
As Sarah’s eyes travelled down the line, the signs of battle were clear. One or two of the men had arms in slings or had bandaged wounds and some of their uniforms were dirty or torn. But it was the expression in their eyes that gave her pause. It spoke of horror and death, a look she had seen before in the faces of Allied personnel, home on leave in London. The more seasoned were easy to spot when out and about in the clubs at night. Invariably, it was the forced gaiety or excessive drinking that gave them away. She could identify the cause, empathise even, but without experiencing war up close, it was difficult to understand its effects fully. But she did wonder what horrors greeted them in their dreams at night.
Lieutenant Pike shouted out orders to his men in readiness for the march ahead, then joined Sarah where she stood by the side of the road.
‘Are you sure you want to walk to the camp with us, Miss Gillespie? I’m sure I could arrange some form of local transport. It is a good thirty-minute march’ – he paused, looking up at the sky – ‘and the weather may close in before we reach Cultybraggan.’
‘No, Lieutenant, thank you. I’d prefer the walk. I have been sitting in trains for the last two days,’ she replied, as they fell into step behind the column of prisoners.
‘As you wish, miss.’
As she matched the rhythm of the march, she knew a good brisk walk in the cold would help clear her mind for the task ahead.
They crossed over a bridge, the swollen river pounding over the rocks underneath, and soon they were out on the flatter terrain of the river valley, leaving Comrie behind. It was a vast landscape, magnificent in its bleakness. In the distance to the south, snow-capped peaks rose into the ever-darkening metal-grey sky. Snow-covered fields lay to either side, with deep drifts marking the edge of the roadway. It was only three-thirty but almost dusk and it was much colder than it had been in Edinburgh without the tempering effect of the sea. The cold air was bracing, almost enjoyable, but Sarah was not looking forward to retracing the journey to Comrie when it would be pitch dark.
As she walked along, Sarah realised she hadn’t thought about Da for a while. She hadn’t visited his grave in Cardiff since his funeral, either. It was still too raw; what he had done. Sarah could never forgive his betrayal and she partially blamed him for her sister’s horrible death, buried beneath the rubble of their home. If only he had come back that night when the bombs were falling on North Strand. He could have taken them to safety. But he was too busy pretending to have perished in the attack so he could escape to England to head up an IRA cell. She and Tony had hunted him down eventually, but not before he had helped many fifth columnists and Abwehr agents travel into and out of Wales undetected. His death, at Tony’s hands, still haunted her nightmares. But she did not blame Tony. Her father had known he was dying and had goaded Tony into shooting him so he could become a martyr for the Irish Republican movement. Da’s logic had always been warped.
Suddenly, one prisoner burst into song, tentatively at first, but soon his compatriots joined in, their voices swelling with confidence. Pike, walking by her side, exchanged a quick glance with Sarah, a brow raised. But she just shrugged. It was disquieting, certainly, to hear their native tongue, but it gave her an excuse not to make small talk with the lieutenant. Her mind was too full of the task ahead and the consequences should she fail. Sarah could sense Pike was curious about her and what she might want at the camp. But he had been canny enough not to enquire. However, even if she wanted, she was in no position to enlighten him. The knowledge she held was so sensitive, so dangerous, that it brought her out in a sweat even thinking about it.
Despite now being an experienced MI5 officer, she didn’t know what to expect when she got to Cultybraggan. She still could not believe that they had assigned her this task. Colonel Everleigh, the head of MI5’s B1A unit, and the man who had originally recruited her, had caught her totally off-guard when he had summoned her, along with her immediate boss, Jason White, to his office a few days earlier. When he had informed her of her task, she was sure she had gaped at him in disbelief. However, once she had gotten over the initial surprise, excitement had taken over. At last an assignment to test her abilities, and her courage. Best of all, it was a job that could have a real impact on the outcome of the war.
For the past year and a half, she had been kept busy, mostly based in London and the Home Counties, undertaking surveillance work. Much of it had been tedious stuff, listening to the bugged conversations or reading the intercepted mail of suspected fifth columnists. However, her discovery of an MP with Nazi sympathies had earned her a promotion. And now, Everleigh was entrusting her with her most important job yet. It was slightly terrifying. What was worse, she could not divulge the nature of it to anyone, not even Tony.
Pike interrupted Sarah’s thoughts, pointing across the fields. ‘There it is, miss.’
The road ahead forked, and down to the right, she could make out the curved roofs of Nissen huts and several watchtowers along the perimeter. There was no backing out now.
Pam is an Irish historical crime author with Avon Books UK, an imprint of Harper Collins. She is a member of the Historical Novel Society, The Crime Writers’ Association, and the Society of Authors. She is represented by Thérèse Coen, at Susanna Lea Associates, London. Pam has a particular love of the late Victorian era/early 20th Century.
Pam’s WW2 espionage series, featuring Sarah Gillespie, a young Irish woman working for MI5 on the Homefront, consists of three books. Her Secret War and Her Last Betrayal, both became US Kindle No. 1 bestsellers. The third book in the series, The Last Letter from London, will be published on 17th August 2023. 2024 will see the publication of a standalone Blitz murder mystery.
June 2019, saw the release of the first book in the popular Lucy Lawrence Mystery series, No Stone Unturned – a fast-paced Victorian murder mystery set in London and Yorkshire which was awarded the B.R.A.G. Medallion. The sequels, Footprints in the Sand, set in Egypt, and The Art of Deception, have proved popular and the fourth book in the series, A Pocketful of Diamonds, set in Italy, will be published in 2023.
Her debut novel, The Bowes Inheritance, was awarded the B.R.A.G Medallion; shortlisted for the Carousel Aware Prize 2016; and longlisted for the Historical Novel Society 2016 Indie Award. Her short stories are available in an anthology, entitled Past Imperfect, which was published in April 2018.