Leah Kolbe is a beautiful young woman living a charmed life. An antiques dealer in the fascinating city of Hong Kong circa 1941, she has a dashing fiance', a lovely home, and attentive servants. In the early days of the
Second World War, Leah is sympathetic to the plight of the native Chinese people, much to the derision of elite Hong Kong society. Leah and her fiance', Jonathan, are shopping for wedding rings on the day the Japanese bomb Pearl Harbor. Jonathan, a member of the Hong Kong Volunteers, is immediately called up to war, and Leah watches her perfect world start to crumble.
Ben Elderson approaches Leah with an intriguing proposal - he wants her to use her contacts as an antiquities dealer to spy for the British
government. In particular, he wants her to get information from one of her wealthiest clients, the Japanese businessman Tokai Ito. Leah agrees to his plan, but before she can see Ito again, she must evacuate Hong Kong
ahead of its being overrun with Japanese soldiers.
Leah escapes to the Portugese colony of Macau with only the clothes on her back. At the British consulate, the officer in charge takes pity on her and gives her a job as his assistant. Miraculously, she reconnects with Tokai Ito and gains valuable information from him. Without Elderson to tell her what to do, Leah is forced to figure out on her own what to do with her information. Soon she is being blackmailed into spying for a host of unsavory characters. With her life continuously in danger and no word from Jonathan, all Leah wants to do is find a way back to Hong Kong
- but even if she is able to return to her love, there is no guarantee her life will ever be the same.
Deep Night is the second of Caroline Petit's novels featuring Leah Kolbe. Readers of
The Fat Man's Daughter will enjoy this next installment in the life of Petit's feisty heroine, but new readers will be able to pick up the story with little problem. Leah is, indeed, an entertaining leading lady. She learned life lessons from her father well and is willing to do whatever is needed to keep herself as safe as possible. While that
can result in some questionable decisions, the reader can sympathize with Leah's motive for self-preservation. It does seem that she gets herself into an incredible amount of danger, and out of it again, with relative ease, which at times can stretch the bounds of believability.
Petit clearly loves the Hong Kong of the 1940s, and her research and attention to detail make the novel a pleasure to read. She immerses the reader in the sights and sounds of that time and place with ease,
giving insight into a very different world from the reader's own. Her novel is fast-paced and, while it can at times get bogged down by strange plot coincidences, is generally a page-turner from start to finish.
Deep Night is an entertaining novel of espionage and suspense. While not perfect, it should please a wide range of readers. I look forward to Petit's next novel about the lovely Leah Kolbe.