While guys like Steve Berry and Brad Meltzer are praised for weaving history into their fictional thrillers, author Larry Loftis has flipped the script, crafting his nonfiction books to read more like thrillers than your typical biography.
Ever heard the saying, “sometimes reality is crazier than fiction?” Well, Loftis has shown a knack for bringing those stories to life. His last book, Into the Lion’s Mouth, which #1 New York Times bestselling author Michael Connelly said “will keep you planted in your reading chair from start to finish,” told the story of Dusko Popov, a WWII spy, patriot, and the real-life inspiration for Ian Fleming’s James Bond.
This time around, Loftis is telling the story of Odette Sansom, a British spy who operated in occupied France and fell in love with her commanding officer during World War II.
“When I wrote Into the Lion’s Mouth, I had always assumed that Dusko Popov was the most decorated spy of WWII,” said Loftis exclusively to The Real Book Spy. “When I found out that he wasn’t, that the most decorated spy was not only a woman, but the most highly decorated woman of the war, I was shocked and intrigued.
“As I researched Odette Sansom’s story, I was amazed to see that this was essentially a combination of two famous stories: this is Unbroken, only Louis Zamperini is a woman, and Catch Me If You Can, only the FBI agent (Tom Hanks in the movie) is Germany’s top spy catcher. And if that wasn’t enough, there’s a love story between Odette and her commanding officer.”
From internationally bestselling author of the “gripping” (Michael Connelly, #1 New York Times bestselling author) Into the Lion’s Mouth comes the extraordinary true story of Odette Sansom, the British spy who operated in occupied France and fell in love with her commanding officer during World War II—perfect for fans of Unbroken, The Boys in the Boat, and Code Girls.
The year is 1942, and World War II is in full swing. Odette Sansom decides to follow in her war hero father’s footsteps by becoming an SOE agent to aid Britain and her beloved homeland, France. Five failed attempts and one plane crash later, she finally lands in occupied France to begin her mission. It is here that she meets her commanding officer Captain Peter Churchill.
As they successfully complete mission after mission, Peter and Odette fall in love. All the while, they are being hunted by the cunning German secret police sergeant, Hugo Bleicher, who finally succeeds in capturing them. They are sent to Paris’s Fresnes prison, and from there to concentration camps in Germany where they are starved, beaten, and tortured. But in the face of despair, they never give up hope, their love for each other, or the whereabouts of their colleagues.
In Code Name: Lise, Larry Loftis paints a portrait of true courage, patriotism, and love—of two incredibly heroic people who endured unimaginable horrors and degradations. He seamlessly weaves together the touching romance between Odette and Peter and the thrilling cat and mouse game between them and Sergeant Bleicher. With this amazing testament to the human spirit, Loftis proves once again that he is adept at writing “nonfiction that reads like a page-turning novel” (Parade).
Again, while nonfiction, these books don’t read like a biography. Loftis structures his books to read similar to how a movie adaptation of a true story is written to entertain. In short, Loftis’s stuff reads like a thriller, but it’s all true. If you’re not already reading his stuff . . . start!
Code Name: Lise: The True Story of the Spy Who Became WWII’s Most Highly Decorated Woman comes out on January 15, 2019, and is currently available for pre-order here or anywhere else books are sold.
Praised as “one of today’s finest book reviewers” by New York Times bestselling author Gayle Lynds, Ryan Steck (“The Godfather of the thriller genre” — Ben Coes) has “quickly established himself as the authority on mysteries and thrillers” (Author A.J. Tata). He currently lives in Southwest Michigan with his wife and their six children.