Shining Through

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

SHINING THROUGH is a successful combination of two genres of popular fiction: the wish-fulfilling, happily-ever-after story generally known today as a romance and marketed entirely for women, and the international espionage story often read by women but largely associated with men. The result, although humorous enough to be a send-up of the macho tales that fill airport bookstores, is a fast-moving, satisfying novel in its own right, capable of pleasing both mass-market escape readers and those asking slightly more from their in-flight diversions.

The year is 1941. Linda Voss, an attractive but unwillingly celibate thirty-one-year-old Wall Street secretary, lives out the fantasies of her back-office cohorts by marrying her handsome boss, John Berringer. Despite Linda’s recognized skills in the bedroom, however, John’s heart is with his first wife, who deserted him and whose father, Edward Leland, is engaged in top-secret work in Washington, D.C.

To soothe her ruffled feelings when John loses interest in the marriage, Linda, who learned colloquial German from her immigrant grandmother in Queens, volunteers to infiltrate the household of a highly placed Nazi in Berlin and pass information to the Allies. Working as a cook, she eventually unmasks a mole in the anti-Nazi underground and is only rescued from certain death when her Washington boss intervenes.

The plot of SHINING THROUGH is shaky at times, particularly at the end, and its secrets are telegraphed to the reader rather earlier than necessary, but the characterization is uniformly effective and the heroine thoroughly likable. SHINING THROUGH is a step above a good read, another milestone in the career of its talented author.