Spies by Michael Frayn

Spies

Michael Frayn

This is a very unsettling account of a wartime childhood fantasy game that uncovers the simple cruelties of the adult world. There's a lot of very dark humour and I found the story frightening, tragic and full of suspense. The story is told by a character looking back to events in his past, so there is the added chill of insight, mature understanding and more than a whiff of lost hope. So English.

Extract

And the first of the ordeals was the tunnel itself. Once again I hear our uneasy cries drowned by the huge thunder of the train passing overhead. Once again I see the circle of unwelcoming daylight at the end doubled by its reflection in the great lake that collected inside the tunnel after rain. Once again I feel the awkward twist of my body as I turn to edge sideways along the narrow causeway left at the edge of the lake, and simultaneously lean away from the glistening, dripping wetness of the brickwork. Once again I feel the dank touch of the walls on my hair and shoulder, and brush at the foul exudations they've left. Once again I try to wipe the dark-green slime off my hands.

Parallels
  • Five Boys by Mick Jackson
  • Hope and Glory - the film

Books with similar mood

Death Is Hard Work

Khaled Khalifa

Anatomy of a Soldier

Harry Parker

Viral

Helen Fitzgerald

Jia: a Novel of North Korea

Hyejin Kim

Hausfrau

Jill Alexander Essbaum

Captain of the Steppe

Oleg Pavlov

Noon

Aatish Taseer

Notice

Heather Lewis

The Quarry

Damon Galgut

The Ninth Life of Louis Drax

Liz Jensen

At Swim, Two Boys

Jamie O'Neill

The Quiet Violence of Dreams

K Duiker

Assorted Fire Events

David Means

Mush

Kathleen Bryson

Orange Laughter

Leone Ross

The Dead of Summer

Camilla Way

Let It Be Morning

Sayed Kashua

The Boat to Redemption

Su Tong

Fault Lines

Nancy Huston

Piercing

Ryu Murakami

Citizen One

Andy Oakes

Three Day Road

Joseph Boyden

Double Vision

Tricia Sullivan

Incendiary

Chris Cleave

Kids' Stuff

Henry Sutton

We Need to Talk About Kevin

Lionel Shriver

Night Calypso

Lawrence Scott

Falling Out of Cars

Jeff Noon

The Cave

Jose Saramago

Affinity

Sarah Waters

We That Are Young

Preti Taneja

The Visionist

Rachel Urquhart

Call It Dog

Marli Roode

The Woman Before Me

Ruth Dugdall

The Patience Stone

Atiq Rahimi

Magnus

Sylvie Germain

In the Wake

Per Petterson

Unfeeling

Ian Holding

The Scent of your Breath

Melissa P

The Dogs of Riga

Henning Mankell

The Diagnosis

Alan Lightman

Exquisite Corpse

Poppy Z Brite

Miss Smilla's Feeling For Snow

Peter Hoeg

Innocent World

Amy Sakurai

Autofiction

Hitomi Kanehara

Eve Out of Her Ruins

Ananda Devi

Turning Blue

Benjamin Myers

The Dark Meadow

Andrea Maria Schenkel

The Visitors

Patrick O'Keeffe