Dagmar Mohne Hansen Lahlum

Were I a novelist, were I really going to write an espionage bestseller—as my mother-in-law announced to relatives at dinner the other night (mostly to cover up a lull in the conversation), I would write a novel based on the life of Dagmar Lahlum.

Lahlum was Agent Zigzag’s lover during his 11-month stay in occupied Norway. He picked her up at the Ritz and, neither knowing the other was a spy for the allies, they became lovers: Dagmar, fond of Chapman but also working for the Norwegian resistance; Chapman, well, being Chapman, a sentimental womanizer, finding his port in the storm.

Still, they bought a skiff and together sailed up the coast to the estate that Quisling had taken over. When Chapman returned to England in 1944 he was able to provide MI5 with a precise map of the Quisling compound, should the Allies want to bomb the Nazi government in Norway.

That’s a great scene to imagine from her point of view, isn’t it? Sailing with your lover, who has just confessed that he’s spying for England, and then picnicking on Quisling’s grounds together…

She never had children and lived a long life, always beautiful, in leopardskin and red lipstick to the end. At her death, her niece burned a drawerful on unsent letters to Chapman.

Oh, you can hear, it’s practically a movie already, isn’t it?

Reading Jenny’s account of traveling to Copenhagen to get the flavor of the place for the Explosionist, I had my own momentary fantasy of a Norwegian visit for background material for my novel.

Unwritten novels are always the best..