Whistler House Publishing

ISBN-10: 1461015383

ISBN-13: 978-1461015383

May 21, 2011

Trade Paperback

Kindle E-Book


Audio enabled on Kindle devices



In a chain reaction of double crosses, two women stand

in the way of a nuclear disaster.



1. How does the author set up the plot?

2. What role does music play through the story?

3. Which Bible verse does Grace quote the most to Lee? Why?

4. Why does Grace not try to convert Lee to her Christian faith?

5. What happens to Grace that makes her question her faith and God?

6. What historical event brought the two women together? How did it affect them?

How did if affect you, the reader?

7. Why are Lady Grace and the SS officer instantly drawn to each other?

8. How does Erich von Lohren regain his faith in God?

9. Why is Lee so starved for love? How does this affect her relationships with other people?

10. Since Lee does not have Grace’s faith, what sustains Lee through the dark days of her interrogation and torture?

11. Why is the horse such a significant symbol throughout the story?

12. How does the author show God’s forgiveness in the story?

13. If Lee was your friend, how would you try to overcome her distrust of religion and her disillusionment in God?

14. How does the author show the public’s reaction to people who have endured wartime trauma?

15. What happened to the traitor that shaped his ultimate betrayal? Why did he still feel justified in the end?





Historically, the agent “Trudi” really was a second cousin to King George VI. According to Churchill’s master spy, “Intrepid,” she was dropped into Denmark, betrayed to the Gestapo, captured, tortured and presumed dead, though her body was never found at the Copenhagen prison. At the end of the war, SOE listed her as missing in action (MIA).


In creating the story for my novel, I did not set out to trace the actual royal lineage and background of “Trudi,” but in speaking with a British movie producer who is also intrigued with what happened to the real Trudi, we have both focused on the same royal lineage in Norway. He believes Trudi lived in northern Germany or Denmark and spied for the British at length on Hitler’s Penemunde rocket site. William Stevenson mentioned to an interviewer that William Stephenson (Intrepid) regretted mentioning her existence to him in his biography of Churchill’s spy master. That is why any information about Trudi is so sketchy.


So, I worked on the premise, “What if she survived? What would her story be?” From that scenario developed the sisters-in-spirit between Grace and Lee, and their characterizations, together with the other major players in THE CONSUMMATE TRAITOR, are purely fictional.



When you think of the long and gloomy history of man, you will find more hideous crimes have been committed in the name of obedience than have ever been committed in the name of rebellion. —C. P. Snow




Monday, April 26th, 1937

Distant droning roiled across the mountaintops. The engine’s thrum blended with the faint babbling that echoed skyward from the small town tucked in the foothills of the valley below her.


Lee Talbot held out her sketch at arm’s length and studied it. Everything around her dissolved as she focused on each line and curve.

Something was missing. She looked up and squinted. Her gaze settled on the highest peak stabbing the sky above the Pyrenees Mountains. Ah. A very important detail. With her charcoal pencil, she outlined puffs of white snow capping the brow of the ancient Mont San Miguel.


There, that’s better.


This morning, Quinn Bergin, another war correspondent like her, had chosen this escarpment for its magnificent view of Guernica. He encouraged her drawing and had left her on the mountainside in northern Spain for a day of respite.


Often, in Madrid, she had pulled out her sketch pad to capture the civil war’s worst moments. But here, the mountains protected the local Basques. They still followed their original customs. Like them, she didn’t believe this valley could be breached. She felt safe and had not rushed her drawing.


Her attention shifted.

Even this far up the mountainside, she could make out the buzz of townspeople bartering over produce and crafts.


When she arose at dawn, she had listened from the window of her hotel room to the clip-clop of horses’ hooves over the cobblestone streets and watched farmers from the surrounding hillsides haul their loaded carts to the market square just in front of her hotel. There, they set up stalls. Now, their far-off natter combined with the nearby bleats of sheep and birds’ chirping washed over her like healing springs. She relaxed, for the first time in months.


Wafts of smoke drifted windward from the chimneys of cottages that dappled the countryside. She sniffed and imagined bread baking inside their brick ovens. Her stomach gurgled. The thought of fresh bread smothered in creamy butter reminded her she had forgotten to eat. Where’s Quinn? He had promised to bring lunch. She glanced at her wristwatch. Four-thirty. Time to return to the hotel.


Again she examined her sketch before she scribbled on the lower right-hand corner: Monday, April 26, 1937. GUERNICA.


A deep-throated roar sprang from behind her. Startled, Lee jumped to her feet and spun around. She knew that sound. A twin-engine aircraft. Cupping both hands over her eyes, she strained to see against the sun’s glare in search of the intruder.


Vibrating air whipped from above, pinning her feet to the ground. She raised and pressed the palms of her hands upward against the slipstream. Her neck arched backward and her gaze froze on the underbelly of a twin-engine bomber. For a split second, the German Dornier Do 17 hung as if suspended overhead, engines whistling in her ears, before it swept screaming down the valley and veered onto a south-to-north track barely above the trees. The plane cast the shadow of an eerie cross rippling over the Rio Mundaca, which wound along the valley floor toward Guernica and the town’s streets rising from the river’s shore.


The bomber banked and then circled back, its nose aimed at her heart in a game of chicken between the pilot and Lee on the outcrop. She stood mesmerized. At the last moment, she ducked as the Dornier rocketed over her head towards the towering peaks behind her. She turned in time to watch it vanish.


Lee gasped, dumbfounded. Had she imagined it? Did she see darts pinned in racks under the bomber’s wings? Only this morning Quinn had told her about an incendiary bomb the Nazis had developed. It could produce massive fires wherever it landed, but he had no idea what the new bomb looked like. Could the cone-shaped canisters the Dornier carried under its wings be test incendiaries?


The thought chilled her. Maybe the pilot was looking for a place to drop them because the Nazis were forbidden to test such weapons on German soil. Though the Treaty of Versailles banned Germany from ever arming again after World War I, Hitler now manufactured the most advanced weapons in the world. Who would care about his testing bombs in a civil war the League of Nations ignored?


But this was Basque country. As yet, the Basques had not joined the Republican government to quell the Fascists even though the Republicans had finally granted them home rule. There was no reason the German Luftwaffe should be flying over Guernica.


Lee had to find a phone and report long distance about her sighting to Collier’s Weekly, Ohio’s Springfield-based magazine that specialized in investigative journalism. This time she would scoop Ernest Hemingway and Martha Gellhorn, whose co-authored features stateside were attracting “freedom” lovers, Marxists and anarchists to join the International Brigade in their support of the Republicans in Spain.

But it was George Orwell who made her life miserable. He not only filed stories from the front line, he also joined in the fighting against Franco’s Nationalist uprising. How could she beat that kind of real-life writing? It dwarfed her sideline observations in her weekly column. Sighting the German bomber now gave her a chance to show her editor that she was as good an investigator as his star war correspondents.


Lee jammed the sketch pad and charcoal pencil into her shoulder bag, flung its straps over her head and looped the bag behind her back. As she scrambled down the steep slope, she tripped and sprawled on all fours. Cursing, she pulled her skirt under herself and slid down the rest of the way to her bicycle waiting by the roadside. No sooner had she yanked the bike upright than she heard the warning rumble again.


She checked the sky behind her. There, the same bomber slipped over the southern ridge further west. Her eyes followed its route. It took the same northern heading above the Mundaca River, but higher. Maybe four thousand feet. Fear knotted her stomach. Something dreadful was about to happen.


Lee ran the bike down the road before mounting it and pedaled off. At the S-turn, she misjudged the sharp angle and almost lost her balance. The bike skidded on the rim of the front wheel before she righted it. For a split second, it wobbled. She regained control and carried on cycling downhill, dangerously careening from side to side at breakneck speed.


Her mind raced in sync with her pedaling. She had met Quinn Bergin in Madrid and immediately liked him, because, unlike most newsmen who continually made passes, he didn’t. Instead, he invited her to join him on a trip to Guernica to study the Basques. She would never have gone alone because her Spanish was too awkward, and the Basques didn’t speak English. So Quinn acted as her Spanish translator. According to him, in Spain’s Civil War, if the rebel Fascists under Francesco Franco were to defeat the Madrid government, they had to beat the Basques first. The question for him was: How vulnerable were they to attack?


This morning, anticipating war strategies was her last concern. When Quinn selected the spot where she could enjoy the best view of the valley for her sketching, she thought he might join her for a picnic and suggested he bring back a boxed lunch from the hotel. He agreed but never returned. What held him up? Where was he? She pedaled faster.


POP! Pop-Pop! The sounds echoed up the hillside like fire crackers exploding one after the other, while green fluorescent flares splintered upward from the valley below. Recklessly jamming on her brakes, Lee locked the wheels and nearly flew over the handlebars.  Pop! Pop-pop pop! The strange eruptions continued. She jumped off her bike, using her feet like drags to bring it to a standstill.


In horror, she gazed downward from the roadside at the fires smothering Guernica’s heart. The market! Her fingers squeezed the handlebars, while the steeple bells of the Santa Maria church rang like banshees pitching their strident warnings over the pass.


THUD! The ground beneath Lee’s feet shook. Explosive booms rocked the countryside. Their repeated pounding burst inside Lee’s head. How could one bomber drop so many bombs? Her ears rang with the thunderous noise, and she gagged on the mixed odor of sulfurous eggs and burnt wood rising from the village basin. The inside of her lips burned from the acidic taste of the dreadful stench.


 Oh no! The hotel! Quinn!


Lee remounted and resumed her frantic pedaling down the mountain road to the Renteria Bridge. She crossed it and headed toward belching flames rising from the center of Guernica. After trying to ride through mounds of rubble littering the streets, she gave up, jumped off, and pushed the bike ahead on foot.


The town square lay in shambles. The Julian Hotel—its front—sliced away, its four stories as bare as the back of a doll’s house. Quinn’s room was at the rear of the hotel, but that was no comfort. He could have been caught somewhere else at the time of the attack.


Across from it, the flattened Train Station Plaza left a mangled mess of shingles, bricks and mortar. Desperate survivors scrambled over the ruins searching for loved ones, and when they found them dead, their screams split the shrill clamor of emergency-response sirens.


As more parts of buildings crumbled, sheers of red dust settled over the debris, while rivulets of flames broke out everywhere, disrupting rescue efforts. Lee choked on the stench and doubled over fighting an urge to vomit.


The fumes and intense heat from the fires burning in the square finally drove her from further searching for Quinn. Coughing, she pushed her bike onto the undamaged Calle de la Estacion and paused to catch her breath. She peered through the late afternoon shadows shedding desolate darkness over the lane ahead. From above, a sliver of sunlight pierced the gloom, illuminating the plaid shirt of a figure lying on the ground.




It had to be him. This morning she had called him a lumberjack.


Lee dropped her bike and ran to the still form. When she reached it, she found a boy no more than nine or ten-years-old. There was no visible injury to show how he died. Instead, he lay there as if asleep, clutching his fishing rod. Even in death, he refused to let the pole go. The irony stunned her.


Memories churned . . . little children in Madrid, made homeless by relentless Fascist bombings—hungry ones, bleeding ones, silent ones, hardly more than babies reaching out to her, begging to be fed, held and comforted, to be relieved of their endless nightmare. These were the children she left behind. Unable to wipe away their tears and heartsick with the realization there was nothing she could do except report what was happening, she clung to the hope that somehow, soon, someone would care and do something to stop this ungodly struggle of Spaniards fighting each other.


By some fluke, the side effect of the bomb’s impact left the boy’s body intact yet partly undressed, vaguely tinted in inky browns. His mouth gaped open like the beak of a baby bird starving. A fly landed on the dry dribbles caking his lips and, with frenzied little skips, jumped onto his protruding tongue, never pausing in its quest to probe for his most succulent blood. She shivered.


As if the fly’s feathery feet were brushing her own skin, she batted the air, to no avail. It kept coming back. She doubled over and held her face in her hands. Dry heaves wrenched her stomach. She wanted to vomit. Bile burned her chest and throat, but something held it back. She slumped and turned away. She could no longer look at the boy, at his young face, at his innocence, at the vermin attacking him.


And then she felt a delicate tapping on her left shoulder. When she looked up, there was no one there. Instead, a mournful cry caught in eternal agony dragged her eyes back to the boy. The sound sprang from deep inside his mouth—a silent scream howling into nothingness. His death tore her apart. She had failed him, and all the war victims she wrote about. Her articles changed nothing. No one cared, no one intervened. The dam of her emotions broke. She crumpled in hopeless sobs beside his body. Together, in a moment of evil, they shared the embrace of hell.



Buy Bonnie’s THE CONSUMMATE TRAITOR at (United States) (Canada)


Amazon.UK (United Kingdom)


Kindle North America


Kindle Germany



Bonnie Toews is an award-winning journalist who has covered significant events such as the Rwandan genocide in 1994. Currently she advocates for better care and treatment of Canada’s veterans and veterans’ issues. Her websites are:




About Vicki Hinze
USA Today Bestselling and Award-Winning Author of 40+ books, short stories/novellas and hundreds of articles. Published in as many as 63 countries and recognized by Who's Who in the World as an author and an educator. Featured Columnist for Social-IN Worldwide Network and Book Fun Magazine. Sponsor/Founder of FMI visit

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