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Summary

The Times Best Books for Summer 2020 

There are two sides to every story. And then there’s the truth. 

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 husband, 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.

©2019 Charlotte Philby (P)2019 HarperCollins Publishers Limited

Critic reviews

"A seriously stylish, hugely compelling mystery: Charlotte Philby redefines a male-dominated genre with her brilliantly complex female characters. I was utterly gripped." (Lucy Foley)

"A Double Life confirms Charlotte Philby as the master of a sub-genre she basically invented, dealing in the dangerous area where working motherhood and international espionage collide. Heart-breaking, gripping and always beautifully written, I can’t wait to see what she does next." (Erin Kelly)

"A Double Life is a wonderful novel." (Holly Watt, winner of the 2019 CWA Ian Fleming Steel Dagger)

What listeners say about A Double Life

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Underwhelming

As somebody has already mentioned, I too look this book on the recommendation of the Sunday Times review. It does start quite well but rapidly descends into complete nonsense. Ridiculous storyline, nasty & completely unbelievable main character. The only thing that made me stay was an intrigue into how Ms Philby was planning to extricate the individual. Alas, it appears that she gave up on any meaningful conclusion and settled for an equally absurd ‘non’ ending. That said, the narrators had a good stab at it but couldn’t save a very poor story. Avoid

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Save your credit

If you find an implausible plot, cliched characters & poor attention to detail attractive, then this is the listen for you. Otherwise, save your credit.

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Double life

Long drawn out. Far too much swearing. Do people really swear that much in a working environment. Very poor ending. Almost as bad as 'Then I woke up.'.

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Save your money & time

Bought this because of a Sunday Times review (never again!) which made it sound new and interesting. Starts well with potentially interesting story lines but descends into very irritating total nonsense. Unlikable characters and I actually felt sorry for the narrators having to portray them. Have given up before the end. If you haven’t read the cracking Mick Herron Slow Horses series or Tom Brady Secret Service books try them - brilliant stories.

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Great Beginning but.....

By chapter 30 I lost the will to live as the stories degenerated unbelievable characters The ending was unsatisfactory but phew a relief it

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Starts strongly then descends into utter drivel.

I genuinely wanted to like this book. I’d read great things about the writer, and the story and set up sounded interesting and intriguing. For the most part the start of the novel lives up to the hype. But for some, totally unfathomable, reason the writer then decides to veer off in an absurd direction that makes no sense whatsoever with regards to what’s come before. The main character literally changes personality overnight. Going from an over worked and distracted career woman/mum of two, to a sociopath with zero morals who embarks on the most looney of life decisions. I’d have bought it if there had been some hint of such underlying craziness but there was none. Feels like a wasted opportunity. This could have been a great book!

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  • Timothy
  • 18-07-20

Brilliant page turner without an ending

This book deserves both five stars and zero stars. It's highly suspenseful and compulsive read that leaves you hanging in mid air at the end. This isn't a novel with a poor ending or an unsatisfactory ending. It's a novel without any ending at all. It's also really two almost completely unrelated books tacked together with scotch tape. You keep going because you're used to seemingly unrelated story lines that eventually come together and make sense. Except here they only ever cross paths once tangentially, and that is being generous. It's as though the author suddenly lost interest and thought, "Why should I bother picking up any of my loose ends or making any of this make any sense or go anywhere? The name Philby will be enough to sell the book." All that being said, it's extremely well written and a great story that is impossible to put down. Until it suddenly isn't any of those things any more. Ha ha, April fool, go away. Which makes it all the more frustrating.