‘There are two sides to every story, and then there is the truth’
[ About the Book ]
Gabriela, a senior negotiator in the FCO’s counter-terrorism unit, runs a small and powerful team based in Whitehall. She is tenacious, hard-working and the family breadwinner. Her partner Tom – a freelance architect – looks after their two small children. When Gabriela returns from a seven-month stint in Moscow, something doesn’t seem right.
Isobel is a journalist working for the local paper in Camden. Walking home from a party one night, she witnesses a horrific attack. But someone has seen her, and is making themselves known in increasingly frightening ways. As Isobel starts to investigate, she uncovers a dark network of human trafficking and exploitation.
While Gabriela’s life begins to unravel, Isobel gets closer to the story. With one desperate to uncover the truth, and the other determined to hide it, the two women’s lives converge.
Compulsive and compelling A Double Life is a beautifully written and deeply chilling examination of deceit.
[ My Review ]
A Double Life by Charlotte Philby was published on July 9th with The Borough Press. It is described as ‘another deftly written, compulsive and compelling novel from the author of Part of the Family’ (Side Note – Part of the Family was originally published in 2019 under the title The Most Difficult Thing)
Ingenious really is the only word I have for this novel, and that is mainly because I have previously read Part of the Family. In writing that review (which you can read HERE) I said….
‘Now I will have to mention the ending…ONE MORE PAGE…EVEN ONE MORE SENTENCE and I would have felt less disturbed, less shouting of WTF!!!!!!!‘
I don’t doubt that there are many who have finished this latest novel with the same statement, but not me! I was completely unprepared for the final pages but I got it. I got it and felt very darn smug to be honest!! I await book 3 from Charlotte Philby, which is in the pipeline…so yay 🙂
Gabriela holds a senior position with the FCO (Foreign & Commonwealth Office) in counter-terrorism. She has worked hard to achieve her career success, always with a very ambitious streak to be top of her game. She has two small children but Gabriela never had that strong maternal pull to be with them, immersing herself back into her job as soon as possible. Her partner Tom was prepared to take on the role of stay-at-home Dad. He enjoyed the company of his children and worked freelance on occasion when the opportunity arose. When Gabriela had to travel to Moscow for a prolonged period, Tom never questioned her. It wasn’t what he wanted but he was willing to accept it.
Tom and Gabriela have been together for years. He knows her ambitious nature and he accepts that this is Gabriela. When she is happy, he is happy. He has full trust in Gabriela and in her choices. But when Gabriela returned from Moscow, something shifted.
Gabriela had experienced unexpected internal challenges in the workplace, following her return to work from maternity leave. She felt that her position had been side-lined and that all her hard work had suddenly been over-looked. Gabriela always wanted recognition and success but this drive was to impact her life in ways she could never have imagined. The threads start to break and Gabriela’s world suddenly becomes unexpectedly complex and quite terrifying.
Isobel is a journalist with issues. Her life is in free-fall following a traumatic experience that she is unable to move on from. Working for a local paper has its limitations on what Isobel can write about. She is tenacious, always looking for the bigger story but when she is the singular witness to an early morning attack in a local park, Isobel knows that there is a bigger story there. Due to her recent erratic behaviour, Isobel struggles to get her colleagues to believe her but Isobel is determined and soon finds herself caught up in the dark underbelly of trafficking and corruption that seems to reach right up into the higher echelons of society.
Charlotte Philby has pedigree when writing thrillers and espionage, with her family history linking her to Kim Philby. He was Britain’s most notorious double-agent, a man considered a traitor to his home and country and who defected to the USSR in 1963….and Kim Philby was her grandfather. Taking on this genre is no mean feat, but Charlotte Philby uses all her own personal knowledge and experiences creating an intricately layered story-line that will confuse, shock and delight all lovers of a good thriller. Full of twists and turns, Charlotte Philby expertly interweaves Gabriela and Isobel’s stories, and although separate, as the pages turn the reader begins to notice similarities, cross overs.
A Double Life has a number of characters, none that particularly appealed but I did not have to like them to become wrapped up in their lives. Tom was the only person I felt deserved my empathy, Gabriela is self-centred, self-serving and basically just selfish. Getting herself caught up in a dreadful situation that spirals completely out of control, Gabriela doesn’t consider the result of her actions taken until it clearly becomes too late.
A Double Life ends with a BANG. The connections to book 1 are really intelligently knitted into the story. I genuinely loved the unexpected surprise I got…a perfect ending that has left me drooling for more. I would recommend you read Part of the Family first and when you get to the end, know that there is a delicious twist coming down the line in A Difficult Life. I have no idea where this series is going but I am ready to see what happens next and excited to read about the direction Charlotte Philby takes with her characters.
A Double Life and Part of the Family are clever, clever reads. Inventive story-lines, skillful plotting, subtle hints, shrewd nuances and just very entertaining reads. I like Charlotte Philby’s style. It is filled with misdirection and suspense, deceit, thrills and shocks and a bit of glamour thrown in. Recommended!
[ Bio ]
Charlotte Philby worked for the Independent for eight years, as a columnist, editor and reporter, and was shortlisted for the Cudlipp Prize at the 2013 Press Awards for her investigative journalism.
Founder of the online platform Motherland.net, she regularly contributes to the Guardian and iNews, as well as the BBC World Service, Channel 4 and Woman’s Hour.
She has three children and lives in London. Charlotte is the granddaughter of Kim Philby, Britain’s most famous communist double-agent.
Twitter ~ @PhilbyWrites