In her third book featuring hardscrabble Appalachian girl Velva Jean Hart, Niven delivers a heart-stopping tale of wartime intrigue, romance and high adventure. Plot points and coincidences that strain credulity are easily forgiven against the overall realistic portrayal of World War II’s horror, heroism and sacrifice. And given Velva Jean’s preternaturally wise Southern outlook on human nature, one wonders if “Scout Finch Goes to War” wouldn’t be a more appropriate title.
Following the invasion of Normandy, newly minted WASP pilot Velva Jean Hart talks her way into flying a group of Allied spies into France. When they’re shot down, Velva Jean is forced to assume the identity of “Clementine Roux” and hide in plain sight among the wary, wily French and their Nazi oppressors. As she volunteers for increasingly dangerous missions, “Clementine” is forced to forget her past — including the beloved MIA brother she came to Europe to find — and her doomed love for a dashing, tormented Resistance leader. (PLUME, Oct., 368 pp., $15.00)