THE BEST NEW FICTION
Kate Atkinson Doubleday £20
It’s 1940 and Juliet Armstrong, 18 years old and newly orphaned, finds herself recruited by MI5. Her job is at first rather dull – transcribing the meetings of tea-sipping Nazi-sympathisers complete with ‘biscuit intervals’. But as she’s drawn deeper into the world of wartime espionage, tedium gives way to terror. A decade later, a more cynical Juliet is producing history programmes for the BBC. But her own past refuses to be tidily packed away, and its ghosts are soon circling with menacing intent. Atkinson’s new novel is a treat – cerebral and suspenseful, playful and empathetic.