Please Welcome mystery author K.B. Owen, who’s taking the reins today…and be sure to read all the way to the bottom (and leave a comment) for a chance to win a great prize package!
photo by John Loo (creative commons)
The Nazi Chocolate Caper
By K.B. Owen
This being the day before Valentine’s Day, I thought it would be fun to talk about a chocolate-related case of intrigue.
The year was 1943, and those crafty Nazis had come up with yet another plan to assassinate Winston Churchill. They decided to prey upon the Prime Minister’s fondness for expensive chocolate, and began work on a bomb hidden in a pound-slab bar of Peter’s Chocolate.
photo via wikimedia.org (cc)
How it was supposed to work:
The chocolate bar was made of steel, with a thin layer of real chocolate covering it. Inside was the explosive, with a 7-second delay mechanism. I’ll quote the rest of the description, as detailed by Lord Rothschild, head of counter-espionage at MI5:
“When you break off a piece of chocolate at one end in the normal way, a piece of canvas is revealed stuck in the middle of the piece which has been broken off and sticking in the remainder of the slab. When the piece of chocolate is pulled sharply, the canvas is also pulled and this initiates the mechanism.”
The bar was wrapped in shiny, expensive foil, and labeled “Peter’s Chocolate.” The plan was to take the chocolate into the war cabinet dining room, and so take out as many cabinet members as possible, along with Churchill.
As you may have guessed, the plot was unsuccessful. British agents, working undercover in Germany, alerted MI5 about the plot, and included a rough sketch of the bars they had seen.
Since there was concern that the chocolate bars may actually reach the British public, Lord Rothschild wrote a secret letter to artist Laurence Fish, asking him to draw a better picture of what such a bar might look like. (Fish’s widow just recently discovered this letter, part of which is quoted above, and donated it to the country’s collection of other war-time documents). Check out The Huffington Post’s article, which includes a photo of Rothschild’s letter.
If you’d like to see a sketch of the chocolate bar mechanism click here. One caveat: I haven’t been able to verify that this is Fish’s drawing. It may be someone else’s. But it’s still cool-looking!
Sometimes real life is crazier than fiction, right? What do you think of the plot – did they really have a chance to pull it off, or were they what we would later characterize as KAOS-type bumblers?
Susan, thanks so much for hosting me – again!
K.B. Owen taught college English for nearly two decades at universities in Connecticut and Washington, DC, and holds a doctorate in 19th century British literature. A mystery lover ever since she can remember, she drew upon her teaching experiences in creating her amateur sleuth, Professor Concordia Wells. Unlike the fictional Miss Wells, K.B. did not have to conduct lectures in a bustle and full skirts. Thankfully. No doubt, many folks are grateful for that little fact. 😀
K.B. Owen’s newest novel, UNSEEMLY PURSUITS, released last month:
It is the fall of 1896, and Miss Concordia Wells is hip-deep in the usual tumult of a lady professor’s life: classes, clubs, student pranks, and the unending drama generated by the girls she lives with on campus. Complicating this normality is the new Lady Principal, whom the students have nicknamed “the Ogre.” The woman seems bent on making Concordia’s life miserable.
And then there’s the exotic spirit medium, Madame Durand, who has befriended Concordia’s mother and has started a “Spirit Club” on campus. Madame’s prognostications of doom are at first only mildly irritating – until events take a sobering turn. An ancient Egyptian amulet donated to the college mysteriously disappears, the donor is found murdered, and his daughter – Concordia’s best friend – confesses to killing him.
Desperate for answers, Concordia unravels a 20-year-old secret, closely guarded by men now dead. But such secrets can be dangerous for the daughters left behind, including Concordia herself. Can she make sense of the mystery that has bound together their fates, before it’s too late?
To celebrate the release of UNSEEMLY PURSUITS, K.B. Owen is having a fabulous giveaway, with entries available at each stop on her blog tour (including here!). The winner, randomly drawn from the commenters at each stop, will get a free ebook copy of Unseemly Pursuits.
At the end of the tour, she’ll draw a grand prize winner from among the ebook winners. That person will receive a special Concordia Wells series swag package. It includes mug, keychain, JellyBelly mini-tin, and a signed paperback copy of both mysteries: Dangerous and Unseemly and Unseemly Pursuits! (If the grand-prize winner lives outside the U.S., she or he will receive a $50 Amazon gift card instead, because of the cost of shipping).
Be sure to leave a comment here for your chance to win!
You can also find a full list of the tour stops (and all the chances to win!) LISTED HERE