Richmond, Virginia’s Elizabeth Van Lew is at the center of Crazy Bett, a Civil War novel by Idaho author Michael J. O’Neal that explores the shady world of Civil War espionage. Based on historical events, it tells the story of Van Lew, who spied for the Union while living in the Confederate capital of Richmond—and got away with it by posing as a madwoman, as “Crazy Bett.”

“The novel has something for everyone,” says O’Neal. “There’s spying, secret codes, intrigue, action, comedy, and a bit of a love story. Elizabeth Van Lew was a colorful woman of enormous courage and conviction. She and her underground network played a key role in bringing the Civil War to a close.”