Secrets and Spies
Presenting Your Books of the Month for February
Welcome to our February crop of must-reads. Amongst their number sits the bestselling winner of the Costa First Novel Award, together with the truly revelatory account of a maverick who found his calling in spycraft. We also present a Cold War thriller from an author who only seems to shift from strength to strength, and a cracking children’s adventure with friendship at its mechanical heart.
Fiction Book of the Month
“I’m a finance clerk. I could be issuing invoices for anything, really: armaments, Rohypnol, coconuts.”
Fresh from triumphantly scoring the Costa First Novel Award, Gail Honeyman blends laugh-out-loud funny with sudden unexpected pathos for one of the strongest debuts we’ve seen in years. Eleanor Oliphant – a woman who lives and sees life very much by her own rules – simply leaps from the page as a character to be understood and admired.
Non-Fiction Book of the Month
Henry Hemming had a real hit on his hands back in 2014 with Churchill's Iceman: The True Story of Geoffrey Pyke. Now he returns with the equally compelling tale of a man who by any measure was a paradox, the figure who did more than any other to eliminate the WWII British fascist movement despite once skirting the British Fascisti himself.
Maxwell Knight, the definitive model for Ian Fleming’s ‘M’, shaped the modern intelligence service and, as Hemming expertly lays out, was far stranger and more complex than any fiction.
Thriller of the Month
Author of The Good German, Joseph Kanon, turns his considerable abilities to the era of 1960s defection and the Cold War at its most heated.
Exposed as Communist spy, CIA golden boy Frank Weeks skipped the Iron Curtain to vanish for over a decade. Now, out of the blue, Frank emerges, requesting his publisher brother Simon join him in Moscow to help edit his soon-to-be published memoir. Simon is still in thrall to his charm: Frank, however, continues to play a very dangerous game. Assured, urbane and brilliant, Defectors surely sets Kanon into the same pantheon as le Carré, Fleming and Deighton.
Children's Book of the Month
Another cracker of a debut as County Kildare writer Pádraig Kenny effortlessly conjures an alternate world of childlike robots, remorseless villains and a young boy desperate to uncover the truth of his own past.
This is England of the 1930s, but not one we would recognise: technology has forked into the production of ‘mechanicals’, loyal, innocent, thinking machines, their development deliberately limited for fear of use in war. Now Christopher – a ‘proper’, a real boy with a real soul – is missing, and it’s down to his band of kind and brave mechanical friends to find him.