An Historical Novel of Wartime Intrigue, Rendered Skillfully

Clinton, South Carolina, Tuesday, December 25, 2018

By Monte Dutton

I’m quite ashamed of myself.

Ordinarily, I would have devoured The Torch Betrayal, by Glenn Dyer, in a couple weeks. It was a casualty of the increasingly frenetic pace of my life over the past months. I’ve been out and about, writing stories about local affairs, editing news releases and selecting photos, looking up who died and who got arrested, and trying as best I could to write some more fiction of my own and spend a little time each day plunking away at a guitar.

I haven’t read as much, and that’s a shame because the best way to learn how to write is to read.

Every writer needs to read. Dyer is a pro. His World War II spy novel is exquisitely paced, conventional in composition, well researched, and cohesively plotted. It features cameos of famous historical figures, among them, “Wild Bill” Donovan, Sir Winston Churchill, General Dwight Eisenhower, and, briefly, the lovely actress Hedy Lamarr.


The American Conor Thorn and the English Emily Bright are tasked with retrieving a stolen document that contains plans for the Allied invasion of North Africa, Operation Torch. Thorn’s recent past is tragic. He is unafraid of death because it haunts him, and he feels he must redeem himself. Bright is proper in the English way. She understands the culture of British espionage and helps the impulsive Thorn navigate its nuances. Thorn represents OSS; Bright, M16. They go in search of spies, Nazi sympathizers and … the missing document.

The novel makes its way through England, Morocco, Portugal, and the Vatican. By the time Thorn and Bright uncover the bad guy, a Cabinet minister named Henry Longworth, but before they can nab him, he is en route to rendezvous with the Germans amid the protection of the Roman Catholic Church. Thorn and Bright pursue them, accompanied by a friendly priest.

The climax is, of course, heroic. The surprises are … surprising, but that they occur is not a shock.

It’s a yarn I couldn’t have put down had not circumstances forced me to do so. I must do better.


The Barrie Jarman Adventures (Gabe Whisnant photo)

If you become a patron of mine, you’re supporting writing like this as well as my mostly NASCAR blogs at If you’ve got a few bucks a month to spare, click here.

Another way I cobble out a living is with my books, a wide variety of which is available for sale here.

(Steven Novak cover)


The new novel, my eighth, is called Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.

Lightning in a Bottle is now available in an audio version, narrated by Jay Harper.


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