March 28, 2016
Hardback, Hutchinson, £16.99, out now
An engaging thriller with a very human heart, this cold war spy story is fresh and believable. Giles, a long time Soviet mole in the 1950s British security services, calls in a favour from his old co-worker Stephen. Giles is in hospital and must have stolen secret papers removed from his flat. Lily, Stephen’s wife, watches as Stephen becomes embroiled in an impossible situation, caught up in espionage, politics, secrets and lies.
Dunmore examines the human side of a classic spy story – mainly through the story of Lily and her children. Many of the questions that arise are still pertinent today. How do friends and family react when you are in trouble with the law? Can you count on the system to correct an injustice? When you have been a refugee and exile, does that determine how you perceive and deal with the authorities and other threats?
Exposure is full of effortlessly convincing period detail, not only in setting but in attitudes. Commonplace antisemitism and the reputational risk of homosexuality appear. This is a must read for fans of le Carré or William Boyd. A good holiday read too, and we have a special edition in store which is available exclusively in independent bookshops like ours!
Review by Bethan
October 19, 2012
Jeremy Dyson’s The Haunted Book – an account of real-life ghost-hunting from the member of the League of Gentleman – is the latest volume out in time for Halloween. Our other flesh-creeping picks include Susan Hill’s new ghost story, Dolly, and a fresh edition of The Mist in the Mirror; an anthology of the macabre compiled by Roald Dahl; and disturbing new novels by Helen Dunmore (The Greatcoat) and Jeanette Winterson (The Daylight Gate) commissioned by the publishing imprint of Hammer Films. There’s also John Ajvide Lindqvist’s Let the Old Dreams Die, a short story collection from this Swedish sensation that includes the moving sequel to his astonishing vampire novel, Let the Right One In. (Ask nicely, and we might even give you a free World Book Night edition of Let the Right One In.)
A perfect ghost story is as much about psychology as the supernatural. From the solitary scholars in M. R. James’s peerless tales (available in a Penguin Classics edition) to Susan Hill’s orphans and widowers, ghost story victims are already haunted by loss or loneliness. By allowing our imagination to complete the nightmare, a ghostly tale is often more effective than a TV or film adaptation. Read James Herbert’s The Secret of Crickley Hall and judge for yourself whether the BBC’s new adaptation of the novel – due to air in November – matches the master for sadistic terror.