cover image Exposure


Helen Dunmore. Atlantic Monthly, $25 (400p) ISBN 978-0-8021-2493-7

Dunmore’s (The Lie) novel of Cold War domestic intrigue depicts secrets, lies, treachery, and murder amid the seemingly safe surroundings of 1960s England. Facades begin crumbling and cover stories unravel when Admiralty member and master of concealment Giles Holloway drunkenly falls in his apartment while photographing a top secret file. From his hospital bed, with a leg in a cast and an arm hooked to transfusion tubes, Giles calls his colleague and longtime friend Simon Callington and asks him to return the file to the office before its absence becomes known. Giles believes Simon will comply because Simon owes Giles his job, and because Giles has something on Simon: they were once lovers. Now a husband with three children, Simon agrees to do Giles’s bidding until he realizes Giles is spying for the Russians, almost certainly not alone. Simon places the file in Giles’s briefcase and hides it; his wife, Lily, soon discovers it in their hallway closet behind the Wellington boots. Born Jewish in Nazi Germany, Lily knows how to handle herself under duress. As Simon is wrongly imprisoned for espionage, she buries the briefcase, relocates the family to Kent, and navigates her way through false accusations and unsettling truths. Dunmore deftly creates a noir atmosphere, revealing layers of complexity in personal relationships darkened by non-battlefield conflict and blending psychological observations reminiscent of Henry James with le Carré–esque betrayals. (Apr.)