Vera Atkins was a stylish but unbeautiful British secret service officer during World War II who was often treated like a man and often acted like one, too. Atkins was initially a sort of guardian to her female spies before they parachuted into occupied France. When 12 went missing by war's end, she launched an investigation. But Atkins could be callous, ultimately caring more about her own success. The depth of Helm's reporting is obsessive, like Atkins herself in her interrogation of war criminals. Though the elaborate details weigh the story down at times, Sarah Helm's account, A Life in Secrets, is a chilling reminder of the ghastliness of WWII.