Longlisted, Miramichi Reader's "The Very Best!" Book Awards (Novel)
For fans of Hilary Mantel’s The Mirror and the Light comes an historical espionage novel with a contemporary edge from Michelle Butler Hallett.
The time is 1937. The place: the Basque Country, embroiled in the Spanish Civil War. Polyglot and British intelligence agent Temerity West encounters Kostya Nikto, a Soviet secret police agent. Kostya has been dispatched to assassinate a doctor as part of the suppression of a rogue communist faction. When Kostya finds his victim in the company of Temerity, she expects Kostya to execute her -- instead, he spares her.
Several weeks later, Temerity is reassigned to Moscow. When she is arrested by the secret police, she once again encounters Kostya. His judgement impaired by pain, morphine, and alcohol, he extricates her from a dangerous situation and takes her to his flat. In the morning, they both awaken to the realities of what Kostya has done. Although Kostya wants to keep Temerity safe, the cost will be high. And Temerity must decide where her loyalties lie.
Writing about violence with an unusual grace, Michelle Butler Hallett tells a story of complicity, love, tyranny, and identity. Constant Nobody is a thrilling novel that asks how far an individual will go to protect another — whether out of love or fear.
"Constant Nobody is a remarkably accomplished novel. It takes readers deep into the brutal hearts of darkness of both civil war Spain and Soviet Russia during Stalin’s purges. In those hellish places, men and women struggle with duty and survival while tormenting their victims and being tormented in turn. In the nightmarish world of violence, a man and a woman must grapple with their complicated relationship while trying to save themselves from destruction."
"[Constant Nobody] is an immersive sensory experience. There were moments when it felt like I was in the front row of an intimate theatrical performance."
"Wholly original in story, style and form."
"Without a doubt, Constant Nobody is a difficult, sprawling, challenging novel, but its power is undeniable."
"Gripping, gorgeous, and unforgettable."
"With vivid characters and indelible images that transmit the cruel bleakness of Stalin’s Russia and ruthless gentility of Chamberlain’s England, Butler Hallett conjures a morally complex world of high-stakes international espionage where nothing is as it seems — except that the human heart wants what it wants.
"In Constant Nobody, Michelle Butler Hallett gives us a spy thriller that does more than entertain. It asks us to meditate on the fundamental questions of existence: who can we trust, and what should we believe?"
"Constant Nobody is a suspenseful work of historical fiction, populated with nesting dolls of intrigue, identity, and revelation. Set on the murky borders of war and political unrest, Constant Nobody is a powerful reminder of the importance of connection, one person to another, no matter the cost."