Monday, August 11, 2014

Bismarck's Spies and The Counterfeit Lady {+ Giveaway}

9780425266618_large_The_Counterfeit_LadyIf you like mysteries and Victorian England, then you’re in for a treat today. Author Kate Parker makes a stop here on her virtual book tour with her latest release, THE COUNTERFEIT LADY, the second installment in her Victorian Bookshop Mystery series.

Kate is joining us to talk about Bismarck’s Spies how they found themselves in THE COUNTERFEIT LADY. In addition, thanks to Kate and the lovely Danielle at Penguin Group, I have a print copy of this intriguing book to giveaway. Please see the end of the post for details.

The new mystery set in Victorian England from the author of The Vanishing Thief...
        Who would suspect antiquarian bookseller Georgia Fenchurch of leading a double life—as a private investigator for the clandestine Archivist Society in Victorian London? When England’s national security is compromised, Georgia must pose as a titled lady to root out a spy…
        A cousin of Georgia’s dear friend, Lady Phyllida Monthalf, is brutally murdered in her home during the theft of blueprints of a new battleship designed by her husband—who now stands accused of her murder…and treason. The Duke of Blackford, in service to Whitehall, enlists Georgia and the Archivist Society to assist in the investigation. Playing the part of the duke’s new paramour, Georgia gains entry into the upper echelons of London’s elite, where amidst elegant dinners and elaborate parties a master spy schemes to lay hands on the stolen plans.
        The duke is no stranger to the world of international espionage, but Georgia is out of her element in more ways than one. She must not allow her genuine attraction to the duke—or her obsession with finding her parents’ killer—to distract her from her role. But when a mysterious stranger threatens to expose her, the counterfeit lady may be in real trouble… 

Please join me in extending a warm welcome to Kate.

Georgia Fenchurch and the Archivist Society find themselves up against Europe's premier spy network in THE COUNTERFEIT LADY. In the story, Germany's spymaster in England is Baron von Steubfeld. In reality, Bismarck's espionage network across Europe was set up by an enterprising lawyer named Wilhelm Stieber.

Bismarck's goal was to unify all the little German states under the Prussian king, with himself as chancellor. To do this, he started three strategic small wars with Denmark, Austria, and France. Before each one, Stieber went into the region and gathered information and built a spy network. This helped Prussia win quickly and decisively, impressing the rulers of the little German states.

Stieber's spy networks were made up of shopkeepers, servants, train personnel, and peddlers. It is said he even set up brothels aimed at foreign soldiers in an attempt to learn the secrets of foreign armies.

Once Germany was unified under the Prussian king, Bismarck continued to use Stieber's spy network. Now this network was spread to every country in Europe, including Britain. Because of Stieber's groundbreaking work, Germany was far ahead of every other country except Russia. That was because Stieber set up their espionage apparatus, too!

At one time early in his career, Stieber had to leave Prussia due to his dishonesty and he went to Russia. There he helped set up Ohkrana, the foreign section of the Tsar's secret police that hunted down dissidents who had escaped Russia. Ohkrana was the forerunner of the KGB. Once a new king ruled Prussia, Stieber was free to return and built the German espionage network that was of great use in both world wars. It's not an overstatement to say Stieber, who died in 1882, greatly affected events for the next century.

He also affected events in THE COUNTERFEIT LADY

Baron von Steubfeld, my Prussian spymaster, wants the plans to the warship designed by the foremost British naval architect. When a murder occurs and a set of the plans disappear, the British government suspects the baron of playing a role in these events. They put a watch on the German embassy and tail the employees, including von Steubfeld.

If the plans make it to a foreign government, Britain will lose her new-found advantage over other countries' navies. And in the late 1890s, no nation wanted to gain on Britain's navy as much as Germany did. The Duke of Blackford, often called on by Queen Victoria and her government in a crisis, brings in Georgia Fenchurch and the Archivist Society.

The duke has a special role in mind for Georgia. He plans for her to take center stage in his plot to retrieve the ship design before it can leave the country. That means Georgia must cross paths with the baron and his friends at every opportunity. 

Georgia is more concerned with finding the murderer, because the victim is a cousin of her good friend Lady Phyllida. But the supposed killer is already behind bars. He's the naval architect of the missing plans and the husband of Lady Phyllida's cousin. Lady Phyllida doesn't believe he's the killer, which makes Georgia suspect Baron von Steubfeld orchestrated both the theft and the murder.

Now it's up to the Duke of Blackford to turn Georgia into THE COUNTERFEIT LADY, now available from Berkley Prime Crime.

Kate, thanks for joining us today and sharing this fascinating background on Bismarck's real espionage network, as well as how Georgia gets involved to stop Baron von Steubfeld.

Now here’s a bit of background on Kate.

Kate Parker has held a variety of careers, including microbiologist in two hospitals, insurance fraud investigator, office clerk, telephone line repairer, and emergency medical technician, but her favorite is writer. Only as a writer can she travel to different locales and centuries.

In the last four years, since she switched from Romantic Suspense to Historical Romance, she has been a finalist three times in RWA’s Golden Heart® contest with three different manuscripts. Now she’s made the switch to historical mysteries with romantic elements, featuring the twists and turns and dead ends of her favorite mystery writers, including Robert Barnard, Simon Brett, Margaret Frazer, Susanna Gregory, and Deanna Raybourn. 

When she comes back to the present day, Kate finds herself near the coast of North Carolina with her real life hero, nineteenth century architecture and twenty-first century comforts.

For more on Kate and her writing, visit her website and connect with her on Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads.


This giveaway is for one print copy of THE COUNTERFEIT LADY. The giveaway is open to U.S. residents only and will end Monday, Aug. 18.

To enter, just click on the Rafflecopter widget below and following the instructions. The widget may take a few seconds to load, so please be patient. The winner from this giveaway will have 72 hours to respond after being contacted or another winner will be selected. The email will have ‘Thoughts in Progress Kate Parker’s Tour’ in the subject line, just so you know what to watch for (in case it goes into your spam folder).

Thanks so much for stopping by during Kate’s visit. Do you find the Victorian era intriguing? What are your thoughts on espionage networks? Could you ever see yourself working as a spy?

*This post contains affiliate links. a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. The Victorian Bookshop series and the history lessons therein have taken me by surprise. But who can resist a bookstore? Not me. Please enter my name in the draw. Thanks

  2. Interesting history on the spy network. Definitely gave Germany an advantage.

  3. love the theme of the book; thank you for the chance to win it

  4. Hi Mason and Kate - an interesting entree into the world in Europe before the First World War happened ... I think the history part would be fascinating, while the mystery, intrigue and romance will make this a great read ...

    Good luck ... cheers Hilary

  5. Kate, thanks again for stopping by. Learning about this period of history is fascinating. Wishing you much success.

    Hi all, thanks so much for stopping by.

  6. The true history behind the spy ring is fascinating.

  7. Mason - Thanks for hosting Kate.

    Kate - Thanks for sharing that really interesting story-behind-the-story. I wish you much success.

  8. OOOh, what a lovely garden the Counterfeit Lady has!

  9. Not only do I love mysteries, but I adore anything dealing with Victorian England.

  10. Excited, I love historical fiction so this makes this mystery even more special.

  11. This has got to be good...historical mystery, in Victorian England! The Victorian era was intriguing, with mysteries, spies and espionage. I couldn't be a spy, though, so I read about them! :)

    patucker54 at aol dot com

  12. Sounds like a fun filled adventure!

  13. Hi, Kate and Mason. It's been a while since I read a historical novel. I need to again, one with spies and mystery mayhem.

  14. Really sounds like a great book to read.

  15. Very interesting stuff. I love the book cover.

  16. A captivating novel and feature. The era and the mystery are fascinating. thanks. saubleb(at)gmail(dot)com

  17. Sounds like it will be an interesting book to read. I like the cover

  18. What an intriguing and original historical story line for a traditional mystery. Wonderful cover, too. Best of luck to Kate!

    VR Barkowski

  19. I am very intrigued by the Victorian era. However I don't think I have enough courage to be a spy.

    lag110 at mchsi dot com

  20. I enjoyed Kate's post! I certainly like mysteries, England and 'bookshops'! Thanks!

  21. I like mysteries and victorian England. Sounds like a great book.

  22. The first real book I can read was called My enemy the queen. I have loved reading books about England ever since.


I'd love to hear your thoughts on today's post. Thanks for dropping by.