‘The Book Spy’ is covert tale of Europe during World War II

“You’re not spies,” Marie Alves’ new boss tells his trainees in the Interdepartmental Committee for the Acquisition of Foreign Publications, the cumbersome name for a government intelligence agency. But she is going to be a spy, and Akron author Alan Hlad’s fourth historical novel “The Book Spy” is her story.

Maria, the daughter of photojournalists, lives in New Jersey and commutes to her job at the New York Public Library, where she works transferring newspapers to microfilm. Despite the title, her job has little to do with books. Her mother was killed while covering the Spanish Civil War; her father works as a freelancer.

In May 1942, Maria’s co-worker tells her that he’s been accepted into the new program and will be stationed in Europe to obtain and microfilm foreign publications. Maria expresses interest, but Princeton alumnus Roy tells her that the program accepts only Ivy League graduates; Maria, with a master’s degree from Berkeley, is offended and begins an unsuccessful campaign to join the team. Finally, with a combination of duplicity and audacity, she is accepted.

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