Maria’s Biscoitos (Portuguese Cookies)

by Alan Hlad

Dear Readers,

Are you a foodie? I am! In addition to having a passion for writing historical fiction, I have a love for cooking that was inspired by my parents who owned a mom-and-pop grocery store. While growing up, my parents taught me to cook. And my ardor for food often appears in my books.      

The Book Spy is inspired by real-life librarians who served as spies in World War II. The story is set in neutral Lisbon, Portugal, and I enjoyed including a bit of Portuguese cuisine within the story. Below is a recipe for one of several foods in the novel, and it makes a great snack for book clubs.

Bom apetite!

Alan Hlad

Perfect for fans of Kate Quinn, Marie Benedict, and Pam Jenoff and inspired by true stories of the heroic librarian spies of WWII, the new book from the internationally bestselling author of Churchill’s Secret Messenger transports readers from the New York Public Library to Portugal’s city of espionage in a thrilling, riveting tale.

An American librarian. A Portuguese bookseller. A mission to change the tide of the war.

1942: With the war’s outcome hanging in the balance, President Roosevelt sends an unlikely new taskforce on a unique mission. They are librarians and microfilm specialists trained in espionage, working with a special branch of the Office of Strategic Services and deployed to neutral cities throughout Europe. By acquiring and scouring Axis newspapers, books, technical manuals, and periodicals, the librarians can gather information about troop location, weaponry, and military plans.

Maria Alves, a microfilm expert working at the New York Public Library, is dispatched to Lisbon, where she meticulously photographs publications and sends the film to London to be analyzed. Working in tandem with Tiago Soares, a Portuguese bookstore owner on a precarious mission of his own—providing Jewish refugees with forged passports and visas—Maria acquires vital information, including a directory of arms factories in Germany.

But as she and Tiago grow closer, any future together is jeopardized when Maria’s superiors ask her to pose as a double agent, feeding misinformation to Lars Steiger, a wealthy Swiss banker and Nazi sympathizer who launders Hitler’s gold. Gaining Lars’ trust will bring Maria into the very heart of the Fuhrer’s inner circle. And it will provide her with a chance to help steer the course of war, if she is willing to take risks as great as the possible rewards . . .