New novel blends action and romance in a cross-Iowa adventure

Sep 23, 2014

The latest book published by the Write Place, Rebecca’s Run by Rick Birkenholtz, takes readers through Pella, Oskaloosa, Newton, Des Moines, Iowa City, Greenfield, Sigourney, and many other Iowa towns as its heroes try to foil the plot of Nazi spies.

“Many people are unaware of the degree of Nazi spy infiltration in the United States prior to World War II,” said Birkenholtz. “Although Rebecca’s Run is fictional, it is based on one possible scenario of Nazi spy activity and the innocent people that get caught up in the action.” The plot follows Rebecca VanderVelden, who with her father operates a small, struggling trucking company in Iowa City. Due to the recent death of her mother, Rebecca has assumed added responsibilities for the business, the household, and eight-year-old Andrew. She has little time for men—until Erick McBranden rolls into town and is hired as a truck driver. Erick has a tragic past of his own, but their attraction to each other is undeniable.

Just as Rebecca and Erick are getting to know one another, Erick is unfairly fired by her father. The next day two men with German accents show up at the door with a mysterious crate they need shipped immediately to Des Moines. With no other drivers available, Rebecca reluctantly gets behind the wheel of their oldest truck to make the run. As the adventure unfolds, Rebecca and her father begin to realize the men’s intentions and the shipment are far from innocent—and that they may in fact be Nazi spies!

In spite of being fired, Erick comes to Rebecca’s rescue when he finds her and her stalled truck along the road. The pair makes a run together across Iowa that includes mechanical breakdowns, destination changes, near-death road experiences, good Samaritans, Madison County covered bridges, secrets revealed, car chases, the FBI, a gun fight, Dutch letters, and much more.

Birkenholtz was born in 1948 and raised on a farm in rural Colfax, Iowa. While attending Iowa State University, Birkenholtz dreamt of putting his love of history, antique cars, and adventure stories into a novel. One was started, but life interfered and it was never finished. After graduation from ISU there was a job, marriage, starting a business, helping his father with the farming, and raising a daughter. However, a busy life did not drown the desire to write. A second novel was started. The manuscript for Rebecca’s Run took the next ten years to complete! Now retired, he hopes to finish a play he has written and then start writing another novel.


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