• Reading Levels 3 - 5


A sober war-time landscape provides the perfect setting for intrigue, secrecy and paranoiaThe belief, often with no solid basis, that you are being harassed, betrayed or persecuted by others. in Michael Frayn’s 2002 novel Spies — but for two young boys it is also the start of an unconventional game. In a dual-narrative structure, the now-elderly protagonist, Stephen Wheatley, reflects on youthful escapades as he visits the suburban cul-de-sac where he grew up. He recalls how his life was upturned one inconspicuous day by six words spoken by his best friend Keith: “My mother is a German spy.” Together, he tells us, the pair set out to investigate the suspiciously aloof, glamorous Mrs Hayward, whom they suspected of secret meetings with other operatives. But the pair uncover more than they bargained for — a web of love affairs, abuse, lies and hidden identities tightly packed in the claustrophobic neighbourhood of the Close. Fifty years later, Stephen fills in the gaps of a heart-breaking story, and finally reveals his own shocking revelation.

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