Christmas Comforts: Simon Berthon

Christmas Day may already be over, but we still have plenty of Christmas Comfort reads up our sleeve! Today, Simon Berthon, author of A Time to Lie, shares his recommendation with us. Brace yourself for a dark and chilling tale this Boxing Day…


Simon Berthon recommends…

Snowdrops. Such an innocent, peaceful word conjuring up the Christmases we all used to have before global warming when the world lay calm and white and we hummed the theme to Raymond Briggs’s Snowman. If you open the page of A D Miller’s Snowdrops, that will all blow up in your face.

The opening image is powerfully arresting, one of the great thriller settings in my view. Moscow, the winter snow thawing, bystanders gawping, a smell “like the kind you get home to if you forgot to put your rubbish out on holiday”. The melt reveals a foot, perfectly preserved by the natural freezer it has spent the winter in. The first sign of a corpse or a snowdrop, as they say in the post-communist boomtimes of crooks, oligarchs and reinvented KGB agents. “The sins the winter hides”.

Our witness is an English lawyer, Nick, and, as it will turn out, the book is his confession years later to his fiancée of how he was seduced by the lure of Russia and played by a beautiful, enigmatic woman called Masha and her mysterious accomplices. And yet, despite the damage it does, it is the sense of loss that will always haunt him. The plot neatly unfolds at its own pace, the cast fascinates, but the greatest character of all is something called atmosphere.


Simon Berthon’s A Time to Lie is available to buy now from your local bookshop,, Hive, Waterstones, and Amazon. Don’t forget, you can still discover our other Christmas Comfort recommendations right here!

Other Articles

The Imperfect Art of Baking by Jessica Ryn

This week is National Baking Week, and to mark the occasion Jessica Ryn has joined us on the blog to share a delicious gingerbread recipe like the one Violet Strong – the protagonist in her uplifting new novel The Imperfect Art of Caring – bakes with her mum. Happy… Read More

Alice Feeney on the inspiration for her novel and book recommendations

Dear Reader, I first had the idea for Rock paper Scissors during a trip to Scotland in 2018. We drove to a remote property in a terrible storm, which they called the Beast from the East. When we finally arrived it was dark, there was no power and our phones didn’t… Read More

Don’t be a kittenfish: 6 dating terms you need to know!

Last Girl Ghosted, the latest gripping psychological thriller from Lisa Unger, is out now! To celebrate, Lisa joins us to teach us the language of (modern!) love… Do you know what breadcrumbing is?! You meet someone through a dating app. And it seems to be going well. You… Read More