The Unlikely Spy by Sophie Schiller (review)


Publication Date: September 2022

Casablanca meets Notorious in a Hitchcock-style thriller of espionage, romance, adventure, and intrigue.

1917. Emma Christensen is a young widow who returns to the Danish West Indies to reclaim the life and the villa she left behind. When she discovers her husband has disinherited her in favor of his young heir—an illegitimate son—she turns to the one thing she knows, gambling, and soon finds herself deeply in debt.

Emma is approached by Cornelius Smith, a representative of an American shipping line, who offers an alternative: infiltrate the suspicious Hamburg-American Line and spy on its nefarious leader, Julius Luckner, to gain valuable business intelligence for his firm.

It doesn’t take long for Emma to realize that both Smith and Luckner are not as they seem. Close to the Allies but even closer to the enemy, Emma bravely engages in missions that could blow her cover at any moment. But with the Panama Canal at stake, how far will she go to help the Allies?

A gripping and suspenseful World War I spy thriller from an accomplished thriller and historical adventure writer.

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With the West Indies soon to be transferred from Danish to American hands, and with German operatives planning to instigate conflict to distract America from the war in Europe, new widow Emma Christensen soon finds herself embroiled in espionage between American and German interests in 1917.

Driven by desperation, Emma accepts employment with Cornelius Smith, believing him to be employed by an American shipping company that wants information on a German rival. But as she becomes more involved in the machinations of Cornelius as well as his seemingly charming German counterpart, Julius Luckner, her very life is hanging in the balance.

With a deceptively slow paced set-up, this espionage adventure set before the American entry into what became World War, The Unlikely Spy quickly picks up and becomes an unrelenting thriller. With a dash of romance and constant threat of betrayal, Sophie Schiller has skillfully woven this tale of a genteel Danish widow becoming mixed up with American and German spies blends historical fact with a fictional story that quickly becomes a compulsive read. 


This review refers to a finished copy that I voluntarily received and read, courtesy of the author. A positive review was not required and all opinions expressed are my own.

About the Author

Sophie Schiller is an author of historical fiction and spy thrillers. She loves stories that carry the reader back in time to exotic and far-flung locations. Kirkus Reviews has called her “an accomplished thriller and historical adventure writer.” Publishers Weekly called her novel, ISLAND ON FIRE, “a memorable romantic thriller”, her novel RACE TO TIBET, “a thrilling yarn,” and her TRANSFER DAY, “a page-turner with emotional resonance.” Kirkus Reviews called her latest novel, THE LOST DIARY OF ALEXANDER HAMILTON, “an engaging coming-of-age story of heartbreak, bravery, honor, and triumph.” Her latest novel is THE UNLIKELY SPY, a historical spy thriller set during WWI. She graduated from American University, Washington, DC and lives in Brooklyn, NY.

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