Photo credit: Roo Lewis

Review by Jeremy Duns, in The Times:

Charlotte Philby’s second novel alternates between the stories of two women in London whose lives are changed by chance: Gabriela, a high-flying counterterror specialist in Whitehall who stumbles into a conspiracy, and Isobel, a journalist in Camden who witnesses a woman being attacked on Hampstead Heath and starts to investigate.

Philby keeps the link between the two narratives tantalisingly out of reach for much of the novel, building the tension while her characters fall deeper into worlds of subterfuge and paranoia. Given her family background — she is the granddaughter of the KGB agent Kim Philby — one might expect this to be a spy novel, and there are traces of that, including smooth oligarchs, embassy parties and covert rendezvous in Moscow. But this is closer to Patricia Highsmith territory and is superbly crafted with heart-stopping twists and chills galore. A new star has arrived in the thriller firmament. Buy it now!

Review by Alison Flood, in The Observer

Charlotte Philby’s book is about choices, the ones we make and the ones we ignore. “How easy it would be to cross the line from which there was no return,” thinks her protagonist. Gabriela is a rising star at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office who is drawn into counter-terrorism work: she is desperate to make her mark on this world, but she also has a boyfriend, Tom, and then a daughter, and then a son, and she is slowly shifted sideways, away from the promotion she had been promised. As she crosses line after line – first small ones, then bigger ones – she finds herself in an increasingly dangerous position, unable to ask anyone for help, unable to tell anyone the truth.

Opening as Gabriela returns from a seven-month stint in Moscow, A Double Life also follows the investigations of local journalist Isobel, who believes she has witnessed a murder on Hampstead Heath. Philby, granddaughter of the notorious double agent Kim Philby, explores why a woman might find herself living two lives: Gabriela is gloriously dislikable, and easy to judge, but she is also terribly compelling, and her downwards spiral towards disaster is persuasive and absorbing. Buy it now

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