The Spy Game
Bloomsbury Mar 31 2009, $24.00
In 1961 in London, Hilda Beatrice Palmer, wife of Lieutenant Colonel C.H. Palmer and mother of Anna and Peter, dies in a car accident. However, neither the eight year old little girl nor her older brother believe that is the truth especially with the news of the Krogers' espionage case. Brainstorming, the two children conclude their mom is a Soviet spy. They know their mom was German though born in Russia and met their English dad in Berlin just after the war.
The pair begins to investigate the neighbors for suspicious behavior that will validate their theory. They look suspiciously at a family friend who was incarcerated in a Japanese POW prison and the suicide of the German piano teacher. Then there is their father’s clandestine work during the war that each wonders if that might be a factor. Decades later Anna remains fixated with a deep gut need to understand her mom so she heads to Berlin and Konigsberg, Russia seeking the truth.
Rotating perspective between the past and present with a greater emphasis on the former, readers will enjoy this deep look at the need for causal closure especially with the loss of a loved one in what is an inconsequential accident to everyone except her loved ones. Peter, Anna and their dad come across as fully developed people especially the kids with their maternal obsession; mom also seems real though seen through the rose colored eyes of her children. Readers will relish THE SPY GAME while pondering whether Hilda was a spy who returned to the cold of Soviet Russia or just a mom who died just after saying goodbye to her daughter on a foggy day.