Code Name Edelweiss – Stephanie Landsem

Code Name Edelweiss by Stephanie Landsem
Published by Tyndale on March 7, 2023
Genres: Fiction, Historical
Buy on Amazon

"What I am looking for--what I desperately need, Mrs. Weiss--is a spy."
Adolf Hitler is still a distant rumble on the horizon, but a Jewish spymaster and his courageous spies uncover a storm of Nazi terror in their own backyard.
In the summer of 1933, a man named Adolf Hitler is the new and powerful anti-Semitic chancellor of Germany. But in Los Angeles, no-nonsense secretary Liesl Weiss has concerns much closer to home. The Great Depression is tightening its grip and Liesl is the sole supporter of two children, an opinionated mother, and a troubled brother.
Leon Lewis is a Jewish lawyer who has watched Adolf Hitler's rise to power--and the increase in anti-Semitism in America--with growing alarm. He believes Nazi agents are working to seize control of Hollywood, the greatest propaganda machine the world has ever known. The trouble is, authorities scoff at his dire warnings.
When Liesl loses her job at MGM, her only choice is to work with Leon Lewis and the mysterious Agent Thirteen to spy on her friends and neighbors in her German American community. What Leon Lewis and his spies find is more chilling--and more dangerous--than any of them suspected.
Code Name Edelweiss is based on a true story, unknown until recent years: How a lone Jewish lawyer and a handful of amateur spies discovered and foiled Adolf Hitler's plan to take over Hollywood.

My biggest complaint about Code Name Edelweiss by Stephanie Landsem is that it had to end. I fell in love with Landsem’s characters, and I did not want to part with them. Code Name Edelweiss was my first Stephanie Landsem book, and I will be pursuing her other novels. Fans of espionage and WWII fiction will enjoy this one just as much as I did. Landsem’s provides thrill and mystery without a romance…for which I am very thankful.

After losing her job, Liesl must find a new one—and quickly—to provide for her family. Her mother, children, and brother all depend on her income. Her brother should help, but he does not, which causes some of the novel’s contentious sentiments. Liesl ends up at the offices of Friends of the New Germany, secretly working for a Jewish lawyer under the code name “Edelweiss.” A German American herself, she does not particularly agree with Leon Lewis’s beliefs about Nazis in America, but she needs the money to survive. With the pressure on her shoulders, Liesl reports back to Leon Lewis. Slowly, she learns the Friends of the New Germany organization is far more dangerous than she could ever realize…and only Leon Lewis’s network—including the unknown Agent Thirteen—can stop it.

Code Name Edelweiss by Stephanie Landsem puts to paper the dangers of apathy, a concept unfortunately prevalent even today. Hitler came to power in part because no one did anything to stop his rise. Few spoke out against him. When “No Jews” signs popped up in windows, people remained silent. So-called “friends” said nothing when Jewish neighbors were turned away. Silence was compliance and acceptance. In the 1930s, it might as well have been agreement. Code Name Edelweiss made me think of today’s world. Racism and other prejudices are alive and well in 2023. How many of us sit by and let these go unencumbered rather than speaking up? Pride leads us to eschew conflict and arguments we cannot win. How, though, can we combat the world’s biases from the sidelines?

Stephanie Landsem is a talented author; she leaves no doubt about that. She introduces readers to a part of history once unknown. Leon Lewis was a real person. His mission to foil Hitler’s Hollywood ambitions was real. Code Name Edelweiss led this espionage aficionado to research for herself and to request further books on Leon Lewis from her library. I wish more historical fiction books had the same effect on me.