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Image by charlesdeluvio



Tom and Mary celebrate by taking a trip to Paris, France, where they rent an apartment owned by a Russian woman named Evalina. Evalina also has an art gallery called “iSpy Gallery”. Renting this apartment throws Tom and Mary into the heart of an international political spy thriller. The couple only become aware of the danger they are in after the apartment is broken into and a painting is stolen. A special painting for the President of Russia from his old friend.

A portrait in the apartment of a sixteen-year-old girl dressed in a red ballgown, a relative of the apartment owner from long ago, is a key to the mystery. It carries with it the secret mission Evalina’s family is destined to fulfill.


The mission carried through the heart of the occupation of Paris during World War II and the “adoption” of an orphaned Jewish girl by a surrogate mother, a famous singer-dancer. The singer-dancer and the young Jewish girl smuggle information to the Allied forces through their unique talents. The singer-dancer used invisible ink to hide coded messages on her song sheets and underwear. The Jewish girl used beautiful paintings and hid coded messages beneath her heavy layer of impasto paint.


Throughout her life, the paintings continue to share messages in the fight against evil, including evil that will challenge the 2024 US elections and the safety of the world.


Evalina, Alexei, Nina, Etienne, Ninette, and Guy all join in the effort to carry out the charge from the woman in red. They work to preserve truth. Truth, now able to be held in the

white light within threads woven into modern-day paintings. Threads that were created by a noted Russian astrophysicist, Evalina’s father.


The story also tells of Sophia, a distant family member of Evalina and Sophia’s Godfather, Dimitri. Both are Russian intelligence officers who choose truth over power and greed. You also meet old friends of Mary and Tom’s from years before. The friends re-enter the US couple's lives, ensuring Tom and Mary’s safety.

Image by Svetlana Gumerova



In the follow up of The White Light Within, Colette, the greatest French writer of the 20th Century, has a manuscript stolen in 1910. The manuscript tells a frightening story about an actress who is forced to deliver a package to a man. The package is payment for the assassinations of three world leaders?


Why would someone steal it?

Three American business leaders are behind the plot. The manuscript carried the coded names of these men. The man who stole the manuscript, a US military intelligence lieutenant, and his commanding officer are seduced by the same young woman, an aspiring actress.

The manuscript finds its way into the hands of an American writer who turns the story into a 1930s novel about greed. Then Colette’s original manuscript is stolen again.

Descendants of the original plotters meet in an apartment to celebrate the elimination of the damming manuscript. Three families are now safe from discovery.

A 2005 trip to Paris finds Tom and Mary Martz inquiring whether the writer Colette had ever painted. A young gallery owner is shown a photograph of a painting signed by Colette. The painting eerily reminds the young woman of family lore from long ago. A story involving her family, and two additional prominent families.


I am pleased to write this review on the novel “The White Light Within”.  I come to this review from a unique perspective.  I have known Thomas (Tom) and Mary for over 20 years.  Several of the years 20 years were with Tom as one of my senior staff members at UNC Charlotte.  Mary and Tom were a part of that leadership family. 

Tom and Mary were creative people.  Both artists with a love of travel, especially to Paris, France.  What I did not know was the gifted team they were in writing novels.   Mary conceived the story on their last trip together to Paris.  She asked Tom to write it.  You now see the end result.

As a person who reads a great number of mystery and spy novels, I was intrigued with this story in several ways.  It was especially interesting to me through the perspective of how it was told.  The “what ifs”.  What if you rented an apartment owned by a Russian woman?  What if her father was a noted scientist?  What if she was someone who had a family who helped change the world by spreading truth?  And, what if you were the couple who rented the apartment and had no idea what was going on around you?

The way Mary and Tom tell a story that weaves fact and fiction, science and art, history and intrigue in this unique novel is a reading delight.  I also am pleased that UNC Charlotte where I was Chancellor for 16 years, and its sister institution, The University of Limoges, France are featured.

Lastly, both Mary and Tom see travel abroad as important in providing students an understanding of the world and other cultures.  They have endowed scholarships for this purpose.  One endowment is at UNC Charlotte.  They hope to help others see the “what ifs” around them.  What if knowing others on this globe are just like you and me?  Could this help  bring world peace?

This is definitely a novel you will enjoy.  

Reviewed by James Woodward, Chancellor Emeritus

The University of North Carolina at Charlotte

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