In this third book of the Olive Bright mystery series set in the village of Pipley, England, during WW II—the others are Olive Bright, Pigeoneer, and A Valiant Deceit—author Stephanie Graves narrates the exploits, challenges, and dreams of the courageous, inquisitive young woman who has been dubbed the village’s honorary sleuth and, unbeknownst to her family and neighbors, is a pigeoneer whose birds have been used for secret missions into occupied Europe.
Olive has been trained as a FANY (First Aid Nursing Yeomanry), and she’s involved in the secret British intelligence organization known as Baker Street—it has a top-secret training school for agents at Brickendonbury Manor, near Pipley. But Olive is dissatisfied: “No matter how certain she was that she was making a difference, she couldn’t help but long to do more, to be viewed as more than an eccentric hanger-on: useful, perhaps, but hardly indispensable.” Olive wonders if she has the courage to become an agent, to be parachuted into occupied Europe and face torture or death if she is captured.
Olive’s uncertainty about whether or not to train as an agent is complicated by her ongoing relationship with Capt. Jamie Aldridge, which is supposed to be a ruse providing a cover for her secret work. However, Olive can’t deny that she is falling in love with Jamie. Then Olive’s stress intensifies when she is invited to a séance led by Velda Dunbar, a newcomer to the village, and, while it is in progress in a closed room, Velda is murdered in front of all the guests.
As Olive faces the realities of living during WWII, investigates the murder of Velda Dunbar, accepts a challenge for training as an agent, and deciphers her relationship to Jamie, she comes up against the vagaries and complexities of human behavior—at times hidden, deceptively dark, and overtly evil; at other times surprising, hopeful, and life-giving.
Author’s notes provide historical background to the setting of A Courage Undimmed, highlighting the role of the Czechoslovak government-in-exile in London, England, and the courage of Czechoslovakian paratroopers, trained in England and sent to Europe, who died trying to stop the Nazis. (Kensington Books)