By Charlotte Philby.
3/5 It's difficult to nail this securely to a particular genre. It's a tale of lies and betrayal, of love and loss, it's billed as espionage but Le Carré or Fleming it certainly isn't. Anna, David and Meg have been friends since university. The mysterious Harry had been a star reporter and Anna is in his thrall when she begins sharing a flat with David, a millionaire's son, initially as a purely practical arrangement. It turns out the arrangement suits Harry's purposes well as he claims to be a Government spy who is currently working on exposing the illegal activities of David's father, Clive, and his company and he recruits Anna to help him. Anna's relationship with David becomes more intimate, first casually but gradually deepens, however, Harry is the true love and the situation with David is ambiguous at best. I understand that Charlotte Philby is trying to nuance the motivations of those who end up in espionage and see how it might work for a woman. To demonstrate how a series of individual choices can set a person's path in a direction they might not have chosen at the start. I found myself regularly doubting the likelihood of any of this but this is where the granddaughter of Kim Philby holds the ace. At the same time I struggled to empathise and it was a pretty slow read. The regular switches back and forth in time and the changes of narrator between Anna and David's childhood friend Maria are clever and are and interesting way to allow the story to unfold but I found the timeline difficult to follow and the voices of Anna and Maria were too similar. It's well conceived, I believe it's well crafted, it's getting good reviews, it's a promising debut by a writer who is uniquely qualified but I'm not sure I'm the right reader! ARC courtesy Netgalley