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