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ERIKA LEHMANN

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Full Name: Erika Lehmann
Nationality: German
Organization: CIA
Occupation Agent

Creator: Mike Whicker
Time Span: 2001 - 2022

ABOUT THE SERIES

Erika Lehmann is an agent with the CIA.

She will be, after several adventures where her allegiance is, well, elsewhere. And after the nascent Agency gets its charter from Congress and stops being under the control of the State Department and/or the Pentagon. Once it exists and she starts working for it, she will rack up some very interesting successes all while being both highly respected and constantly suspected by those in authority. All with good reason for both attitudes.

Before she worked for the CIA, she worked for its predecessor, the OSS.

Before the OSS, she worked diligently and earnestly for the Abwehr. Lehmann was a highly thought-of operative for German Military Intelligence with two of her biggest successes being assignments spying in both the UK and the US.

Lehmann is the daughter of a German father and a British mother. Her mother was the daughter of a British diplomat stationed in Berlin before WWI. Her father, Karl, had been an enlisted man in the German army assigned as an embassy driver. They met when he was asked to give her a ride and a courtship and marriage would follow soon after. When the Archduke was assassinated in 1914 and the Great War started, they remained in Germany where Erika was born, likely in 1918.

The times after the War were difficult and Karl Lehmann found meager work as a printer's assistant. It was there that he would meet and become close friends with a rabble-rouser-to-be named Adolf Hitler. When a decade later Hitler came to power, he rewarded his friend for his long term loyalty with a plush job working at the American Embassy.

So it was that now teenaged Erika Lehmann would come to spend three years living and schooling in the States. Her command of English was already excellent thanks to her mother and frequent trips to visit her grandparents in England. While her German speaking was done as a native, her speech in English was decidedly British in sound though after three years in the D.C. area, she could switch to an American accent with no trouble at all.

The death of her mother in a car accident took the Lehmanns back to Germany where the father got a high ranking job in the Propaganda organization run by Goebbels and the daughter got a job at the Seehaus as a translator of BBC broadcasts. She was sent for a time to learn Russian which she did proficiently, albeit with a German accent, and some Danish and Slovak.

That is the time that other departments started recruiting her. Strongest of the two were the Gestapo and the Abwehr. Her immediate dislike for the rat-faced (her words) Himmler decided matters and she took a job with the latter.

It should be stated at this time that Erika Lehmann was proud German and avid Nazi. Whether she actually joined the Party is not known [by me] but her father definitely did and she gladly joined him in numerous events. Just as her father remained a close confidant and advisor to Hitler, so did she stay friendly with the Fuehrer and even became especially close to his 'friend', Eva Braun.

Lehmann's switch from being a patriotic German spy to working with the OSS came after she was captured. When it was learned that her father had been murdered at the command of Himmler, who had become immensely jealous of his closeness to Hitler, she was willing to help the OSS go behind enemy lines and strike specifically at Gestapo targets, all leading hopefully to her being able to eliminate Himmler herself. It would be on this mission that she would come to learn the horrific truths of the concentration camps and the despicable annihilation of so many millions. Her devotion to anything Nazi would leave her forever.

From that point on, her willingness to assist the OSS, and later the CIA, would be based mostly on three facts.

The first is that as a captured German spy, her life was forfeit, especially since several people died for one reason or another in the course of her missions (some she nothing to do with and many she decidedly did). If she did not agree to help, she would either languish in prison or be executed. The choice was simple.

The second is that she was very, very good at what she did. Her athleticism was superb and her intellect quite high. She was an excellent swimmer, could handle obstacle courses with usual ease, and was deadly in hand-to-hand combat, knife-fighting or the use of firearms, long or short. Thrown in her skills at switching from a person of German upbringing to an upstanding British citizen on to an American with a natural grasp of its idioms and thought patterns, she was a natural. And add in her ability to operate in the Soviet Union with her excellent ability with Russian, passing her not-so-perfect accent off as Polish or Slovakian.

The third is that she truly enjoys the excitement and the danger and the challenges of being constantly on the edge of discovery and knowing that instant reactions are constantly required. Toss in a little understood tendency to react quite strongly (to be polite) to annoying male aggression actions and you have someone who lives for this line of work. 

Lehmann is a blonde (usually) woman of exceptional beauty and grace and breeding. She had a very strong sexual attraction to men but is not unwilling to become intimate with another woman should that prove necessary or advantageous. She does not use sex as a means to get ahead, e.g., for advancement, but she definitely will use it to survive or to get the job done if all else fails.

Part of her upbringing involved Lehmann becoming familiar with the Norse mythology of the Valkyries and their role in matters dealing with Valhalla. Part of that folklore involved the concept of the Shield-Maidens, female warriors who took up the shield and the sword and fought alongside their male counterparts, sometimes to avenge them.

Through the course of the many adventures that Lehmann has, she will 'accumulate' her own collection of fellow female operatives, so much so that her CIA boss and handler, Leroy Carr, will use the 'Shield Maidens' designation for her team.

This group will consist of a variety of interesting women, a few who will be with her for a long time and some whose career, and life, will be ended too soon.

Stephanie Fischer, a German operative working with the British supposedly as a double agent.

Kathryn Fischer, sister to Stephanie and an Abwehr agent undercover in the Gestapo who will become one of Erika's closest friends.

Zhanna Rogova, a Soviet agent determined to kill Lehmann at any cost who will then be forced by life and circumstances to work alongside her with the OSS and CIA, all without killing her though an occasional altercation or two was not ruled out.

Sheila Reid, a Major in the American Army who is frequently pulled from her regular duties to assist in a mission, sometimes with Lehmann and sometimes with her boss, Carr.

Kay Carr, wife of CIA handler Leroy Carr, and a bitter hater of Lehmann from the time that Lehmann had her kidnapped and held hostage to force her husband's hand. Being later pushed to work with as opposed to against Lehmann was not a pleasant thing to watch but it would be interesting.

These women, whether officially part of the Shield-Maidens or ancillary to them, are almost as fascinating to follow as Erika Lehmann herself.

BOOKS

Number of Books:21
First Appearance:2001
Last Appearance:2022

1 Invitation to Valhalla Invitation to Valhalla
Written by Mike Whicker
Copyright: 2001

The year is 1942. Erika Lehmann is sent to America where her primary assignment is a Jewish metallurgist named Mayer working on top secret research for the US Navy. Even as she attempts to seduce what she wants out of that man, the Gestapo head, Himmler, has sent his top enforcer to find and eliminate Lehmann.
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2 Blood of the Reich Blood of the Reich
Written by Mike Whicker
Copyright: 2009

The year is 1943. In Cincinnati, Elizabeth Ault is that city's top newspaper reporter and always determined to get the latest story. Frank Ault is her husband, a homicide detective who has the brains and the fists to solve any case. Both will have reason to be interested in the beautiful stranger named Anne Brown and the trouble that seems to follow her.
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3 Return to Valhalla Return to Valhalla
Written by Mike Whicker
Copyright: 2012

The time period is largely late 1943 to 1945. In the ending period of the Nazi regime and the Second World War, Erika Lehmann heads back to war-torn Germany. She is out for revenge against Gestapo leader Heinrich Himmler when she learns he had ordered her father's death but she needs the help of the OSS to pull it off and they have uses for her talents as well.
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4 Fall from Valhalla Fall from Valhalla
Written by Mike Whicker
Copyright: 2016

The years are 1945-1946. The War in Europe has recently ended. Erika Lehmann is fulfilling her promise to help the OSS by using her legendary espionage talents  against Russia. This will mean going undercover with SMERSH and working with the extremely deadly and probably psychopathic Zhanna Rogova, a female Soviet agent with a strange fixation with Lehmann.
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5 Operation Shield Maidens Operation Shield Maidens
Written by Mike Whicker
Copyright: 2017

The year is 1946. Former allies the US and USSR are now moving towards their own Cold War. The latter is determined to catch up with the US in nuclear technology and to help in that, they capture a brilliant Austrian inventor. The CIA knows getting that scientist back is vital to US security and it chooses Erika Lehmann to help in that assignment.
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6 Hope for Valhalla Hope for Valhalla
Written by Mike Whicker
Copyright: 2017

It is late in 1946. The American Mafia is finding Cuba an excellent place to make a lot of money away from the prying eyes of the US Feds. The CIA is concerned that the mobsters are becoming very close to the Soviets and they sent two of their agents, Erika Lehmann and Zhanna Rogova, to Havana to infiltrate the mob and learn what they can. They do this by becoming bodyguards to Bugsy Siegel.
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7 Search for Valhalla Search for Valhalla
Written by Mike Whicker
Copyright: 2018

The year is 1947. As the Cold War starts to warm, the CIA send agents to Argentina on a mission to investigate how the USSR is operating in that South American nation. The group sent is codenamed the Shield Maidens. Accompanying these three experience operatives will be Kay Carr, wife of the Deputy Director, a non-agent but a native Spanish speaker. It is supposed to be a simple assignment - up until the Shield Maidens go rogue.
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8 A New Valhalla A New Valhalla
Written by Mike Whicker
Copyright: 2018

The year is 1948. Erika Lehmann is furious when the CIA forces her to work with a former enemy, the brutal Gestapo hitman Axel Ryker, a man who once tried hard to kill her. The assignment for the two is to track down a mercenary team hired to kill thousands in Denver.
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9 Shield Maidens Return Shield Maidens Return
Written by Mike Whicker
Copyright: 2018

The year is 1948. CIA Deputy Director Leroy Carr finds he must resurrect the team known as the Shield Maidens. Someone that the Agency wants to talk with is a former female Abwehr spy now thought imprisoned in a gulag. Carr sends the Shield Maidens to get her out if she is still alive, a mission particularly interesting to Maiden member Kathryn Fischer since the objective is her sister.
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10 Valhalla Won Valhalla Won
Written by Mike Whicker
Copyright: 2019

The year is 1948. Erika Lehmann and her Shield Maiden teammate, Zhanna Rogova, have both gone missing. CIA Deputy Director sends out an alert for them and a search team tasked with finding and stopping them both as they are suspected of planning to assassinate a major world leader.
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11 Cliffs of Valhalla Cliffs of Valhalla
Written by Mike Whicker
Copyright: 2019

The year is 1949. Several former Allies are trying to bring about the birth of NATO but there are numerous forces determined to stop that creation. Assigned to counter their efforts are Erika Lehmann and Zhanna Rogova, put together on a mission specifically for the Secretary of State, George Marshall.
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12 Smoketown Legend Smoketown Legend
Written by Mike Whicker
Copyright: 2019

The year is 1949. After several courts in southern Ohio and in Kentucky are unable to convict a number of criminals, these men disappear under strange circumstances. Interestingly, the men are all either Jewish or black, and near where they were last seen are found swastika graffiti. The CIA quietly sends to investigate Axel Ryker, former Gestapo hitman, as well as Erika Lehmann and her Shield Maidens.
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13 Farewell Valhalla Farewell Valhalla
Written by Mike Whicker
Copyright: 2020

The year is 1949. On what should have been a simple mission to head to a small Indiana town to retrieve some hidden records, Erika Lehmann finds a whole lot of trouble. The town is where six years before she had as a German spy infiltrated a Naval shipyard. Her history back then will cause her trouble now.
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14 Singing with Wolves Singing with Wolves
Written by Mike Whicker
Copyright: 2020

The year is 1950. Erika Lehmann had hoped she was safely retired from the espionage business. Unfortunately a personal family tragedy will bring her back into action, joining with her other Shield Maidens and the scary Axel Ryker. This mission will take them to Romania and the Transylvanian region where a notorious Castle beckons.
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15 Upstairs at Gaetano’s Upstairs at Gaetano’s
Written by Mike Whicker
Copyright: 2020

The year is 1950. As trouble brews in Korea, the Soviets are interested in the technology for the US's latest jet fighter. To find the agents sent to Colorado to obtain this classified intel, the CIA picks Erika Lehmann as well as Zhanna Rogova and Axel Ryker. Lehmann will find that to accomplish her mission she will have to call upon Denver's biggest crime family.
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16 Nighttime in Berlin Nighttime in Berlin
Written by Mike Whicker
Copyright: 2020

The year is 1950. The East German Stasi is working hard to infiltrate the US Army's intelligence division, the G2. To stop them, the CIA picks Erika Lehmann and her Shield Maidens team. These people head to Berlin to go up against former Gestapo and SS officers.
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17 Dancing for the Gestapo Dancing for the Gestapo
Written by Mike Whicker
Copyright: 2021

The year is 1951. Once again the CIA has a mission for Erika Lehmann and the Shield Maiden team but this time it does not have to travel anywhere. The trouble is in Washington, DC where evidence points to a mole busy stealing secrets at the Pentagon. Lehmann and team are tasked with uncovering him or her.
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18 Intrigue at the Lili Marlene Café Intrigue at the Lili Marlene Café
Written by Mike Whicker
Copyright: 2021

The year is 1951. As the Cold War gets even hotter, word comes that a high school math teacher is in danger. That person, lauded by Albert Einstein for coming up with some vital theories on space travel, is said to be the target for Soviet agents. Erika Lehmann and Zhanna Rogova are sent to be bodyguards, taking as cover the roles of substitute teachers.
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19 American She-Wolf American She-Wolf
Written by Mike Whicker
Copyright: 2021

The year is 1951. Once again the CIA needs Erika Lehmann and the Shield Maiden team to head behind the Iron Curtain, this time going back to Romanian and the Transylvania Mountains. What they find there will change all their lives forever.
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20 Roma Roma
Written by Mike Whicker
Copyright: 2021

The year is 1952. The latest assignment from the CIA will take Erika Lehmann and the Shield Maiden team to Canada and then on to Spain to take on a powerful Sicilian Mafia don.
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21 Evansville's Finest Hour Evansville's Finest Hour
Written by Mike Whicker
Copyright: 2022

The year is 1942. Nazi Germany has sent its top English-speaking female spy, Erika Lehmann, to "the sleepy American Midwestern city of Evansville, Indiana".
Her actions in that city were told in Invitation To Valhalla but...
There are three months missing between her arrival and the events of the adventure.
This is the story of those three months, "a popular radio show host finds himself embroiled in a harrowing game of cat and mouse with the enemy agent to break up a local black market gang".
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MY COMMENTS

For quite a few foolish months, I was 'going to get' the books in this series. I saw them available but kept putting it off and I am not sure why although the fact that there were well over a dozen when I first noticed them made me wonder, silly man that I can be, just how good they could be if there were so many and I had not heard of them.

But I finally decided to pick them up and dive into them. And I am nearing the end as I write this and I do not plan on coming out until I finish and when I do, I am pretty sure I will go looking for more.

There are many things that go into making a good series.

Plots. Dialogue. Prose. Pacing. These are vital elements to a book and therefore the success of a series.

Plots are vital as they cannot be too outrageous or they will be laughed at instead of enjoyed and they cannot be too dull or the reader will lose interest. Dialogue is important. People should talk like the people they are so the reader can 'hear' the words coming out of their mouths. By Prose I mean the actual writing and the manner that the words come off the page should be a chore or distasteful. And the pacing must make the story flow from one event to another smoothly.

To me, all four of these are handled darn well by the author and I have no complaints about any of them.

But the biggest element, IMHO, to the success of a series are the characters, especially the lead. He/She/They must be believable in his/her/their environment. They do not have to be likeable per se, although that helps, but they have to be people the reader can 'see' doing what they are do. And the reader must be able to want to 'see' them; to know what they are doing and understand why they are doing it and to care about both enough to finish the adventure and wonder what happens next enough to pick up the next one.

And to me the Erika Lehmann stories hit right across the board.

I was intrigued about her from the beginning. And it was just her - no team involved. Just her and her mission and the author made both so fascinating that I could not stop devouring that initial adventure until it came to a terrific and satisfying end. So much so that I moved immediately onto the next one without hesitation.

The plots and dialogue and wording and pace were all done so well that I had no complaints about any of them.

And the character was fascinating.

Then over a short time the one character, Lehmann, was joined by a couple other people that I was interested in following. A couple of very bad people in particular, out to kill Lehmann and almost doing so. And then a couple more who become acquaintances of hers and then associates and then colleagues and then friends, including one of those who started out a determined enemy. Slowly there would be another here and there, joining with Lehmann and becoming interesting enough on their own but so much better as part of the group. Lehmann was still the star and the series stayed centered on her but the others made her stories even more compelling.

I will not try to pretend that this series is perfect. Nothing is. I have read a ton of different series over my years and loved a bunch of them and none of them was perfect. This one is not either.

But it hit me so well and kept hitting me right and I kept reading. And I have enjoyed every step.

GRADE

My Grade: A+

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