DEEP NIGHT - Caroline Petit
DEEP NIGHT is the second Leah Kolbe book from USA-born, Australian resident author Caroline Petit. Set in 1940's Hong Kong, Leah finally agrees to marry her lover English ex-pat Jonathon. Unfortunately the date of their wedding - Christmas 1941 - finds her exiled to Macau and Jonathon in a Japanese prisoner of war camp. The Japanese push from occupied China into Hong Kong is rapid and brutal. Those that can escape to Macau live a hand to mouth existence as refugees. The rest of the story you can get from the synopsis of the book really.
DEEP NIGHT was just one of those highly entertaining books that turned out to be perfect for a Sunday afternoon. Leah's a great character (I was reminded somewhat of Phyrne Fisher, but there's more of a serious side to Leah as well). She's quite the survivor and she's very much the pragmatist and in war - needs must, regardless of how unpleasant the circumstances. Leah isn't a prude though, and her sexual exploits are frequently enjoyable no matter the circumstances. One of the great strengths of DEEP NIGHT is that although there's a bit of a fun side to Leah, you never lose the sense of the war and the danger around her. Whilst there's definitely spy thriller brave doings and a bit of dashing around, under it all there's the ever present threat of the Japanese, as well as the distress of not knowing the fate of friends and her loved ones in Hong Kong. The personal aspects of war are wonderfully portrayed simply by placing the British and Japanese consulates side by side in Macau and then drawing on the difficulties between two friends (the respective consuls) now on different sides of a conflict.
Seemingly fitting perfectly within the timeframe that it's written in, DEEP NIGHT was really a very enjoyable spy type book, albeit with a hefty dose of sex, romance, intrigue and love's lost. This is definitely a book that would appeal to somebody looking for a good historical spy thriller with that feminine touch. It was so enjoyable I've now ordered a copy of Petit's first Leah Kolbe book THE FAT MAN'S DAUGHTER as I'm kicking myself I missed it when it was originally released.
Leah Kolbe's father, a dealer in antiquities, left the business to her when he died. Now the Japanese have occupied most of mainland China and threaten the British colony of Hong Kong where Leah lives. When they unexpectedly invade, her fiance becomes a prisoner of war, interned under the harshest conditions with the rest of the colonialists. She escapes to Macau, arriving there penniless after everything - including her shoes - has been stolen.
Leah finds a job at the British consulate and is accepted into local Portuguese society. But when she is asked, she agrees to become a spy and to take a Japanese armaments manufacturer as a lover, putting her life in constant peril.